Toyota Eyes-Up EV Air-Taxi Potential

Toyota is looking into EV aviation possibilities that could see it enter the futuristic air-taxi market already explored by Uber, Hyundai and Citroën.

It has entered into a collaboration with Joby Aviation, an aerospace company developing and all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft aiming to bring fast, quiet and affordable air transportation services to market.

The automaker sees the collaboration as a natural extension of the automotive role in a smart city environment as it transitions from just being a hardware company into a mobility solution provider. It sees collaboration with Joby as a path to bring urban on-demand air transportation into the mass market consumer creating a new category of moving people and goods.

It hopes eVTOLs will help alleviate persistent mobility challenges in urban environments that are expected to house up to 70% of the planet’s human population within the next two decades. Future escalating mobility challenges include traffic congestion in these urban areas, increased environmental burden and the lack of transportation in underpopulated rural areas, among others.

Joby’s development of eVTOL aircraft combines elements of helicopters and small airplanes, claiming high reliability, zero emissions, fast flight speeds and quiet operations. It says the aircraft also offers lower operating costs, lower costs of maintenance, and enhanced safety features.

In addition to investing $394M in Joby, Toyota will share its expertise in manufacturing, quality and cost controls for the development and production of eVTOL aircraft. More details of the prototype aircraft and production plans will be announced at a later date.

Toyota president and CEO, Akio Toyoda, said: “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,” “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. Through this new and exciting endeavor, we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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