Aircraft

Joby Aviation reportedly set to buy Uber Elevate

Joby Aviation reportedly set t...
Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
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Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
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Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
Uber has reportedly reached an agreement to sell its Elevate division to Joby Aviation
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Uber has reportedly reached an agreement to sell its Elevate division to Joby Aviation

A lot of things are up in the air, if you'll excuse the pun, when it comes to the emerging eVTOL air taxi market. We don't know who will be first to get an airframe certified, or how many years away that might be. We don't know which designs and powertrains will lead the way, or exactly how people are going use these services.

One thing seemed certain, though; ride-share companies like Uber looked extremely well placed to become the customer face of air taxi operations. Millions of people already have credit cards registered with their apps, for starters, and they deliver a far superior booking service to traditional cabs. They're also uniquely positioned to handle multi-mode trips; a customer could make a single booking, and a car could take them from pickup to a vertiport for an eVTOL ride, and then from the landing vertiport to the final destination. Uber's software team could make such trips nearly seamless.

Uber wanted a piece of the action for sure; its eVTOL white paper was early and influential, and it set about creating an Uber Elevate division to begin planning around infrastructure, certification, air traffic control and other aspects of the business well in advance of any aircraft being ready.

Now, according to an Axios report, it's washing its hands of 3D commuting and selling off the Elevate division. Uber might be a household name, but it's losing money at an extraordinary rate – nearly US$3 billion in Q2 2020 – and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been making tough decisions to steer the company towards profitability.

Uber has reportedly reached an agreement to sell its Elevate division to Joby Aviation
Uber has reportedly reached an agreement to sell its Elevate division to Joby Aviation

The buyer, according to "multiple sources," is Joby Aviation, which operates out of a rural compound near Santa Cruz. Joby seems one of the most likely companies to get an airframe certified early; it's many years and iterations into its eVTOL development now, and has monstrous financial and manufacturing backing thanks to a recent deal with Toyota. By our count, Joby has more cash behind it than anyone else in the business.

And now, it seems, it's got Uber Elevate. Exactly what that means is unclear. Elevate had about 80 employees, and was running an Uber Air helicopter service in New York before COVID-19 struck. It ran an annual Elevate Summit, and had done some work on airspace management and multi-mode travel software, as well as forging partnerships with eVTOL manufacturers, infrastructure builders and the like.

We wouldn't expect Joby to spill too many beans on the deal; it's a famously secretive group that prefers to operate quietly. Heck, I've been to the Joby compound myself, and am bound under NDA not to share what I saw. So it may be some time before we learn what's in this deal for Joby. But it's certainly an interesting development considering that many folks have been assuming Uber would take a leading role when eVTOLs finally break through into the mainstream.

Source: Axios

2 comments
Towerman
You read my mind.... I was Just about to ask Loz when will we be getting an update from my favorite VTOL companies. Skai and Joby.
A stellar move, with the covid vaccine's ready for deployment, the VTOL industry looks as bright as ever

And combining a company such as Joby with it's very functional, capable and awesome looking Machine with the backing of Toyota, with a proven strategic marketing and business platform such as UBER Elevate can only bring Prosperity to the VTOL air travel industry, and of course a big smile on my face as i wanted to see Joby and Skai in the air 2 years ago already !

And of course an update on the CityHawk would be wonderful as well !
ljaques
Uber is likely smart to have divested itself of the aviation division, despite the brilliant vehicle they had. Times are hard and it will be years before we see air taxis in a tight little rich sector. Me? My Gripping Hand is waiting for Puppeteer stepping discs.