California-based aerospace company Joby Aviation and Japan’s largest airline Ana Holdings have announced a new partnership to establish an air ride-sharing service in Japan. Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) is also on board, with the intention of exploring field transport connections.
Joby Aviation is a leader in eVTOL aircraft. In 2015, we got a glimpse of Joby’s vision for the future of urban transport with the 16-rotor VTOL S2. The S2 VTOL is an electric aircraft designed to take off and land vertically and tilt its propellers to fly horizontally at remarkable speeds. Then, last July, Joby announced that it had beaten its predicted range figure of 241 km (150 miles), with a test flight of 249 km (154.6 miles). And in January, the company has demonstrated how fast his prototype S4 electric air taxi could travel, reaching a speed of 330 km/h (205 mph), faster than any eVTOL to date.
The new partnership will use Joby’s five-seat all-electric aircraft for convenient, emission-free air travel across Japan. This air taxi has a maximum range of 241 km (150 miles), a top speed of 321 km/h (200 mph) and a quiet profile. According to the duo, the 50km trip from Osaka Station to Kansai International Airport could take 14 minutes by plane instead of 55 minutes or more by car.
Joby and Ana will work together on pilot training, air traffic management, infrastructure development, public acceptance, flight operations and regulatory requirements to operate. Additionally, Toyota, Joby’s main investor and which has worked with the company since 2019, will determine how ground transportation can be combined with the service.
JoeBen Bevirt, the founder and CEO of Joby, explained:
Joby exists to help people save time while reducing their carbon footprint. Japan presents us with a spectacular opportunity to do just that, with 92% of the population living in urban areas and Tokyo listing as one of the top 20 most congested cities in the world.
We are honored to work with ANA, an airline that has deservedly received a 5-star rating from SKYTRAX nine years in a row, and we look forward to working closely with them to bring our air ridesharing service to Japan.
In February, Joby also teamed up with local telecommunications company SKT to introduce an air taxi service in South Korea. The company has spent more than ten years developing the technology behind its aircraft, performing more than 1,000 test flights. Additionally, Joby is the first (and only) eVTOL company to sign a G-1 (Stage 4) certification basis for its aircraft with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
Koji Shibata, Director and Executive Vice President of ANA Holdings, said:
ANA has 70 years of experience in providing safe and reliable flights to customers around the world. We are proud to bring this operational experience to the table as part of this partnership and to be at the forefront of introducing this revolutionary mode of transportation to Japan.
Our customers value efficiency, which is why it’s very appealing to be able to offer them the ability to travel quickly – and sustainably – from an international airport to a downtown location.
The concept of carpooling in the air is rapidly gaining momentum in Japan as the country accelerates its efforts to prepare for the 2025 World Expo, which will be held in Osaka, Japan’s third most populous city.