Toyota Investing $400 Million In Flying Car Company

Toyota claims it is investing around $400 million in Joby Aviation, a company working on commercializing electric flying cars for “fast, quiet and affordable air transportation services”.

This investment is in lieu of expanding into new sectors as the automobile industry is rapidly transforming. President of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, promising to move the firm “from a car manufacturer to a mobility company”.

Toyoda said, in a statement announcing the investment on Thursday, “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. 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.”

Joby Aviation was founded in 2009. It is working on a four-passenger electric aircraft that will take off and land vertically, not unlike a helicopter. The firm is focusing on making the aircraft for commercial transport, rather than for sale to individuals.

Toyota said it would also offer its “expertise in manufacturing, quality and cost controls for the development and production” of Joby’s aircraft. Shigeki Tomoyama, one of Toyota’s executive vice presidents, will join Joby’s board and play an “active role in setting strategic direction”,  said Toyota.

Joby also has a partnership with Uber to develop an “urban air taxi service”.

Toyota has also invested in the Japanese SkyDrive project to develop the world’s smallest flying car. It also announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month that it plans for a “woven city” at the base of Mount Fuji that will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and smart homes.