Toyota Goes in Flying Taxi Mode

Joby Aviation VTOL 4 photos
Photo: Joby
A few years back, the El Dorado of car evolution was the electric drivetrain. Faster than you can say recharge, carmakers of all sizes jumped onboard the electrification train, and forever changed the auto industry. And now a new dream is in the making: vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
Fueled by the increasing popularity of drones and in response to the need of taking transportation to the sky in packed urban areas, carmakers have begun studying the possibility of making such vehicles themselves.

There’s a number of companies from the auto sector working on such ideas, including Audi (with Airbus) and Hyundai (with Uber). The South Koreans seem to be the most advanced in this respect, and they have already shown a prototype of the S-A1 PAV at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

As of this week, the Japanese from Toyota are joining the fun, and they announced an investment of $349 million in American startup Joby Aviation.

Unlike Hyundai, Toyota does not seem determined to use its own manufacturing lines to produce aircraft, but it did said that, aside for money, it will try and help Joby by sharing its expertise in manufacturing, quality and cost control.

Joby has been working for the past ten years on an aircraft that can transport four people. Powered by an electric drivetrain, it is supposed to reach speeds of 200 mph and a maximum range of a little over 150 miles. Full details on the project will be announced at a later date.

“Air transportation has been a long-term goal for Toyota, and while we continue our work in the automobile business, this agreement sets our sights to the sky,” said in a statement Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.

“As we take up the challenge of air transportation together with Joby, an innovator in the emerging eVTOL space, we tap the potential to revolutionize future transportation and life.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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