Volocopter announced that it has acquired funds amounting to $55 million from its latest Series C funding round to help it compete with the Uber Elevate team in the new Flying taxi service arena.
Whenever one thinks about the Taxi business, brands like Uber come to mind. Advancement in technology is now pushing the company to explore flying taxi services to escape the ever-growing traffic congestion menace. The Uber Elevate team is striving towards transforming the world through aerial ridesharing at scale.
The anticipation of flying cars has become an idea more synonymous with the tech world’s shortcomings than its potential. Soaring above congested traffic in the past existed only in futuristic Sci-Fi films. However, with Uber Air, that future is closer than most think.
Uber confirmed that it is developing shared air transportation planned to be unveiled in 2023. The service will start between suburbs and cities and eventually within cities. The Taxi service provider is working with its Elevate Network partners to launch fleets of small, electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft. Operations will start in Los Angeles, Dallas, and the first international market will be in Melbourne.
Another startup has come up and is determined to compete with Uber to dominate this new market. That startup, Volocopter, is currently trying to make small, airborne vehicles a reality. It announced a fundraiser and stated that it is on track for a commercial launch in the next two or three years. Volocopter is a privately-owned German aircraft manufacturer.
The Volocopter Funding
Billionaire Li Shufu’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has agreed to invest in flying-car developer Volocopter GmbH as the Chinese auto giant strives to diversify into technologies that will, in the end, supplant the traditional gas guzzler. Volocopter revealed that it has already raised 50 million Euros in the first closing of its Series C funding round.
Most of that money came from Zhejiang Geely Holding Group that also acquired another flying car maker Terrafugia in 2017. Geely is also a privately-owned automotive conglomerate that features brands like Geely Auto, Volvo Cars, and Lotus in its portfolio. Volocopter’s cumulative total amount acquired now stands at 85 million Euros. The new money will help bring the VoloCity air taxi to commercial launch within the next three years.
According to the company, VoloCity is a 700-kg two-seater electric aircraft that has a maximum payload of 200 kg. It will offer 35 km of range and can fly at speeds of up to 110 km/h. Furthermore, its lithium-ion battery pack is swappable and swapping needs only five minutes.
A second closing of the Series C funding round will take place at the end of 2019. Volocopter is undoubtedly already in deep discussions with financial and strategic investors and also remains open to new investors. Additional funding will go into applications for commercial certification by the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) for the VoloCity air taxi.
Since its launch in 2011, Volocopter has designed three generations of Volocopter aircraft with two already licensed for unmanned and manned flights with up to 35 million Euros (RM161 million) of funding. Recent flying test flights at the Helsinki International Airport proved that its aircraft are well-matched with existing air traffic management solutions.
The company plans to unveil its VoloPort air taxi landing infrastructure at the ITS WC in Singapore in October. Company CEO Florian Reuter explained:
“Urban mobility needs to evolve in the next few years to meet rising demand. With our Volocopter air taxis, we are adding a whole new level of mobility in the skies. This funding round is allowing us to take great strides towards bringing Urban Air Mobility to life whilst being respectful of our shareholder’s money.”
On the other hand, Geely also agreed to a joint venture with Volocopter. They aim to bring Urban Air Mobility to China. Li Shufu stated:
“Geely is transitioning from being an automotive manufacturer to a mobility technology group, investing in and developing a wide range of next-generation technologies.”
Geely joins Daimler as a minority shareholder of Volocopter with the start-up’s founders, Alexander Zosel, and Stephan Wolf remaining the major shareholders.