Toyota recently announced it has invested US$394 million (close to RM1.6 billion) in Joby Aviation, an aerospace company that is developing and commercialising an all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Aside from the significant sum invested, which makes Toyota the lead investor in Joby’s USD590 million Series C financing, the carmaker will also share its expertise in manufacturing, quality and cost controls for the development and production of Joby’s eVTOL aircraft.

According to Joby’s website, the vehicle is a four-passenger air taxi that is capable of hitting speeds of up to 322 km/h and travel more than 241 km on a single charge. It is also touted as being “100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and near-silent when flying over.” Other plus points mentioned include low operating and maintenance costs as well as enhanced safety features.

Toyota has the collaboration reflects its recognition of the long-term potential of the urban air mobility market to meet the evolving needs of society. “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 Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation.

“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,” he added.

Meanwhile, JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, commented, “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.:”

“Toyota is known globally for the quality and reliability of their products driven by meticulous attention to detail and manufacturing processes. 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 (or more) commuting time every day,” he added.

This isn’t the first time Toyota has invested in a flying car company, as back in 2017, it provided 42.5 million yen (about RM1.5 million) to Japanese startup Cartivator to develop its SkyDrive eVOTL two-person multicopter.