California-based eVTOL developer Joby Aviation is forming a partnership with Japanese airline ANA Holdings to bring aerial ridesharing services to Japan.
Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt says: “Joby exists to help people save time while reducing their carbon footprint. Japan offers us a spectacular opportunity to do just that, with 92 per cent of the population living in urban areas and Tokyo registering as one of the top 20 most congested cities in the world.
“We're humbled to be working with ANA, an airline that has deservedly been awarded SkyTrax's five star rating nine years in a row, and we look forward to working closely with it to bring our aerial ridesharing service to reality in Japan.”
With a range of up to 150 miles and a top speed of 200 mph, Joby's all-electric, five seat eVTOL aircraft could make the 31 mile journey from Osaka station to Kansai International airport in less than 15 minutes. It takes one hour by car.
ANA and Joby will collaborate on the development of infrastructure, pilot training, flight operations, air traffic management, public acceptance and the regulatory requirements for eVTOL operations. Toyota Motor Corp will support the effort to integrate with ground transportation. Joint discussions will be conducted with relevant private companies as well as local and national governments.
The partners are all existing members of Japan's Public-Private Conference for the Future Air Mobility Revolution, established by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Investment and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to accelerate the adoption of aerial ridesharing in the country.
ANA Holdings representative director and executive vice president Koji Shibata says: “ANA has 70 years of experience delivering safe and reliable flights to customers across 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.
“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 spent more than a decade developing the technology behind its aircraft, completing more than 1,000 test flights and becoming the first and only eVTOL company to sign a G-1 (stage 4) Certification Basis for its aircraft with the FAA.
The concept of aerial ridesharing has been rapidly gathering momentum in Japan as the country accelerates its efforts to prepare for the 2025 World Expo to be held in the western capital of Osaka, the third most populous city in Japan and the largest component of the Keihanshin metropolitan area of more than 18 million residents.
While Joby's aerial ridesharing service will be operated directly by the company and offered to passengers via the Joby app or Uber app in core US markets, this move reflects its strategy to partner with local companies to launch its service in select markets outside the US. The company also expects to work with local ground mobility partners.
Joby already has strong connections with Japan, having worked alongside Toyota since 2019. Toyota is Joby's largest outside investor with nearly $400 million invested to date, and has lent its expertise on manufacturing process development and high-volume production.