SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) — The future of transportation may soon soar to new heights. On Wednesday, Joby Aviation, a Santa Cruz-based startup that has kept its electric flying taxi secretive for years, secured venture capital funding to the tune of $590 million, largely led by Toyota.
The Japanese automotive manufacturer will help build Joby’s fleet of air taxis and is providing them with nearly $400 million.
“I think in our lifetime we’re going to see this, now it’s hard to know when they’re going to solve every last technical problem and every last regulatory problem, but this technology is in the realm of possibility,” said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russ Hancock. “It’s not science fiction stuff anymore.”
“Sounds like a pretty cool idea, actually,” said San Carlos resident Alex Schleufer. “Sounds modern and state of the art.”
The aerospace company also revealed new details about its air taxis. A taxi would seat five people, travel 150 miles before it needed a recharge, fly vertically and would be 100 times quieter than an airplane.
But Joby is far from the only company in the race to get air taxis in the sky. Hyundai, partnering with Uber, just unveiled its own air taxi at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.
Joby, however, is also partnering with Uber. The rideshare company plans to build the landing pads and give customers the option of choosing a flying taxi over a car.
“We badly need solutions,” Hancock said. “We’ve been driving cars on pavement for too long.”
Schleufer said he would pay up to $30 for an air taxi, but Joby hasn’t made it clear how much each sky ride would cost. The company has only said it would cost as much as ground transportation at some point in the future. If that’s the case, Hancock said the idea would likely take off.
“This doesn’t work if it’s only for the millionaires among us, that doesn’t solve any of our transportation problems,” said Hancock. “The point is to make this a viable means of transportation for regular folks.”