Zhejiang Geely Holding Group will invest in German flying taxi company Volocopter, and set up a joint venture with the start-up to launch air taxis in China, the company said on Monday.
Geely led a round of investment that raised €50 million ($55 million) to help the VoloCity aircraft with its commercial launch within the next three years, the company said in a statement on Monday. Geely will take a 10 per cent stake in the flying-car developer, it said.
Geely Holding chairman Li Shufu said Geely has been “transitioning from being an automotive manufacturer to a mobility technology group”.
Li said the planned joint venture with Volocopter “underlines our confidence in Volocopter air taxis as the next ambitious step in our wider expansion in both electrification and new mobility services”.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said urban mobility needs to evolve in the next few years to meet rising demand. This new round of funding can help the company “take great strides” toward bringing airborne cars to life, he said.
The first closing will increase the total capital that Volocopter has received to €85 million.
Volocopter is also in discussions with investors to raise more funds by the end of this year, according to the statement.
The flying-vehicle developer will put the funds toward receiving commercial certification by the EU Aviation Safety Agency for its VoloCity aircraft, the statement said.
Volocopter is among a host of companies tapping into the rising demand for flying vehicles. Since its foundation in 2011, Volocopter has built three generations of Volocopter aircraft, two of which received licences for manned and unmanned flight with a total funding of €35 million.
The company has performed a number of public demonstrations of the viability of electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. Most recently it successfully completed a flight at Helsinki Airport.
After the Series C funding round, Geely will become a minority investor in Volocopter, next to existing strategic investors like Daimler AG. Volocopter’s founders will remain the company’s largest shareholder.
Daimler AG management board chairman Ola Kallenius said: “We are delighted to see our partners at Geely investing into Volocopter and becoming shareholders as we have been since 2017.”
Other companies in the US and Japan, such as Uber Technologies Inc, Boeing Co, Airbus SE and a Toyota Motor Corp-backed start-up, are also developing airborne vehicles and trying to commercialise them in the near future. CHINA DAILY