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Toyota invests in flying cars

Auto giant joins aviation specialist to develop urban air mobility solutions

Toyota has announced a partnership with aerospace company Joby Aviation to begin development and production of electric vertical take-offand landing (eVTOL) aircraft – better known as flying cars.

The Japanese car-maker has announced a lead investment of $US394 million to help fund the $US590m project, making it the latest automotive company to signal its intent in the emerging urban air transportation arena. In future, battery-powered eVTOL vehicles are expected to create a new category of moving people and cargo by transporting commuters and goods quickly and quietly by air within and between urban centres, reducing road congestion and air pollution. It’s unclear whether this collaboration will result in the flying car with which Toyota was expected to light the Olympic torch at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in July, where it will be presenting partner and automotive sponsor.

If it does, the flying torch lighter won’t be all Toyota’s work.

Much like Hyundai’s recently announced partnership with Uber to create flying taxis, Toyota says it will share its expertise in manufacturing, quality control and logistics with Joby to “enable the deployment of fast, quiet and affordable air transportation services”.

“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 Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda.

“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.”

Toyota Motor Corporation says its executive vice-president Shigeki Tomoyama willjoin Joby’s board of directors and play an active role in setting strategic direction at board level.

Joby Aviation says it develops eVTOL aircraft using elements of helicopters and small planes to produce zero-emissions aerial vehicles with fast flight speeds, quiet operation and low operating and maintenance costs.

Founder and CEO of the California-based aerospace company, JoeBen Bevirt, said that integrating synergies from the Toyota Production System will help facilitate the efficient mass production of its aircraft, helping it deliver high quality, durable and reliable vehicles that meet exacting safety standards.

“This collaboration with Toyota represents an unprecedented commitment of money and resources for us, and for this new industry, from one of the world’s leading automakers.,” he said.

“I am excited to harness Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing prowess to drive us toward our dream of helping a
billion people save an hour-plus commuting time every day.”

Toyota and Joby say they will reveal further details as production gets underway.

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