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Flying-car startup Joby lands partnership with Japan’s ANA

Toyota-backed company says air taxis could cut through Tokyo and Osaka traffic

Flying-car startup Joby lands partnership with Japan's ANA

ANA Holdings has joined hands with U.S. startup Joby Aviation to explore aerial ride-sharing services, the parent of All Nippon Airways said Tuesday, becoming the latest Japanese company to seek potential business opportunities involving flying cars.

Flying from Osaka Station to Kansai International Airport could take just 15 minutes based on plans laid out by flying-taxi startup Joby Aviation Inc. and the country’s biggest airline.

Joby and ANA Holdings Inc. will work together to bring aerial ridesharing to Japan for the first time, according to a statement Monday. Toyota Motor Corp. will join the partnership and focus on ground-based transport.

The move reflects Joby’s strategy to team up with local companies to launch its service in markets outside the U.S., the company said. The startup and the airline will work together on infrastructure development, pilot training, flight operations and air-traffic management.

Electric-air taxis are coming closer to reality as the first wave of designs reach maturity and developers turn to the market for funding. A wave of deals with airlines and lessors in the sector over the past year means competition is heating up to ink agreements.

With Japan due to host the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, the concept has been gathering momentum in the country. Similar deals have occurred in other nations, with Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes airline ordering flying taxis from British company Vertical Aerospace Group.

California-based Joby is developing a five-seater aircraft with a maximum range of 241 km and a top speed of 321 kph. The startup targets producing its first aircraft this year, with entry into service slated for 2024.

Joby shares have fallen by a third this year, valuing the company at just under $3 billion, amid an investor shift away from startups that aren’t generating profit. The firm went public last year.

Joby first partnered with Toyota in 2019, and the carmaker led a Series C funding round. Toyota engineers have also worked on projects with the company, according to a Joby blog.

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