2022-11-01 editor

Sources: 01 November 2022

Flying-taxi pioneer Volocopter GmbH’s launch funding reached $600 million after it raised cash from Saudi Arabian and Chinese investors in a fifth financing round ahead of the planned start of commercial flights in 2024.

Volocopter tapped a total of $182 million from Neom, which is building a futuristic city on the Red Sea in the far northwest of Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong-based GLy New Mobility Fund, backed by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., the German firm said in a statement Tuesday.

The funding should allow the startup to complete certification of its electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, paving the way for its bid to enter service in Paris in time for the 2024 Olympic Games. “This is the key requirement to launching commercial operations and starting to generate revenue,” Volocopter Chief Executive Officer Dirk Hoke said.

EVTOLs, as flying taxis are known, are being pitched as a new transport market, fitting somewhere between traditional cabs and helicopters, with leading developers collectively raising billions of dollars for their projects. Volocopter’s chief European rivals, Britain’s Vertical Aerospace Ltd. and Lilium NV, also based in Germany, have pursued a different funding strategy, listing on New York’s Nasdaq exchange via mergers with
blank-check companies.

France has established a hub outside Paris for the testing of eVTOLs as it develops plans for two dedicated flight paths during the Olympics, one from Charles de Gaulle and Le Bourget airports to a site in the city center, the other from Saint-Cyr aerodrome near Versailles to a heliport next to the Eiffel Tower.

Volocopter, which is taking part in the trial, says its two-seater VoloCity model should also enter service in cities including Singapore and Rome in the next two years.

Neom last December also signed a strategic partnership with the aim of operating the aircraft, as well as the VoloDrone cargo model, while Geely is a long-time backer of Volocopter and sees a role for emission-free eVTOLs in future Chinese mega-cities.




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