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Saudi investment company making the sparks fly

Posted 26 June 2020 · Add Comment

A Saudi investment company is backing one of the new crop of electric aircraft designs aimed at bringing pollution-free flight to the public.

The company hopes to see the new aircraft operating in the Middle East over the next few years.

Jameel Investment Management Company (JIMCO), the investment arm of Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ), has not said how much it has sunk into Joby Aviation, but the Californian company has recently raised $590 million in a third round of fund-raising, taking its total funding to $720 million – believed to be the largest amount of cash raised by a company in the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) market, writes Alan Dron.

Leading the investing group in the latest funding round was Japanese car-maker, Toyota Motor Corporation.

Joby Aviation’s S4 electric air taxi aircraft is designed to carry a single pilot and four passengers and to be capable of flying at 200mph (320km/h) out to a range of around 150 miles (240km) on a single charge of electricity.

The aircraft has an inverted gull main wing, together with a highly glazed cabin with a tricycle undercarriage. Propulsion comes from four motors on the wing, plus two on rear booms.

All six motors swivel through 90 degrees from horizontal to vertical to allow vertical take-off and landing (VTOL).

The aircraft, if it receives the necessary certification and goes into production, will be operated as a taxi service, with passengers paying per trip.

“We’re building a new system for transportation to transform your daily life, at greater safety and, in time, at a similar cost to driving,” said Joby Aviation’s founder and CEO, JoeBen Bevirt.

“Through JIMCO’s investment, Abdul Lateef Jameel is leveraging its regional expertise for Joby Aviation,” said Hassan Jameel, deputy president and vice chairman of ALJ.

“Air taxi service is still in the early stages of commercialisation, but one that has the potential to completely transform the future of mobility. We are excited to be part of this new chapter for the sector, bringing fast, affordable and zero-emissions air mobility to Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region.”


 

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