Flying cabs have been the stuff of Sci-Fi movies for decades now. But companies are starting to make this fiction a reality.
The latest groups to announce that they will be venturing into the aerial ridesharing market are Japan’s largest airline, ANA Holdings (ALNPY), and California-based aerospace company, Joby Aviation. The partnership will also join forces with Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota), Joby’s largest outside investor and which will explore other aspects of the value chain, including ground-based transportation.
In a statement published on the company’s website on February 14, 2022, JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, said: “Joby exists to help people save time while reducing their carbon footprint. Japan offers us a spectacular opportunity to do just that with 92% of the population living in urban areas and Tokyo registering as one of the top 20 most congested cities in the world.”
“We’re proud to bring that operational experience to the table as part of this partnership and to be at the forefront of introducing this revolutionary form of transport to Japan,” said Koji Shibata, representative director and executive vice president at ANA.
Shibata added: “Our customers value efficiency very highly, so being able to provide them with the option to travel rapidly – and sustainably – from an international airport to a downtown location is very appealing.”
Joby has developed an all-electric, five-seat aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL). The aircraft has a maximum range of 150 miles and a top speed of 200 mph, boasting a low noise profile, which makes it sensitive to built-up areas, Joby’s piloted aircraft was designed to be both efficient and emissions-free, capable in some cases of cutting everyday travel times by 75%. The aerial ridesharing service will be operated directly by the company and offered to passengers via the Joby app or Uber app in US markets,
ANA and Joby will collaborate on all aspects of the new venture, including the development of infrastructure and pilot training as well as handling public acceptance. The companies will also hold discussions with local and national governments as well as private groups.
Both Joby and ANA are members of Japan’s Public-Private Conference for the Future Air Mobility Revolution, established by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Investment and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. This was created to promote aerial ridesharing in the country.
The announcement comes as Japan prepares for the 2025 World Expo, to be held in Osaka, the third most populous city in the country with more than 18 million residents.
Joby and ANA are not the only companies hoping to bring electric air taxis to Japan. Avolon. In October 2021, lessor Avolon signed a deal to sell or lease up to 100 Vertical Aerospace electric air taxis to Japan Air Lines.