The German airport taxi start-up Volocopter has secured 50 million euros in a new financing round led by the Chinese Geely Group. The new funds will be used to bring Volocopter’s electric aircraft to commercial launch within the next three years.
In order to bring the concept of urban air mobility to China, Geely and Volocopter also want to set up a joint venture, for which the two founding companies plan to jointly remain the largest shareholders.
Volocopter has developed the electrical air taxis that take off and land vertically (eVTOLs) based on drone technology and carry two people. Last month, Volocopter revealed the design of its latest model VoloCity, which is the fourth generation of the electric VTOL from the German company – and the basis for the Volocopter’s planned air taxi service. Velocopter has the ambition to establish Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in addition to current transportation options in larger cities internationally.
“Urban mobility needs to evolve in the next few years to meet rising demand. With our Volocopter air taxis, we are adding a whole new level of mobility in the skies,” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “This funding round is allowing us to take great strides towards bringing Urban Air Mobility to life whilst being respectful of our shareholder’s money.”
Volocopter will remain in discussions with additional investors for a second closing around the end of the year. The first closing will increase the total capital that Volocopter has raised to 85 million euros.
This C funding round has been led by privately-owned Chinese automotive company Geely Holding, who can now boast a considerable portfolio of global brands including Geely Auto, Volvo Cars, and Lotus, among others. With this latest agreement, Geely Holding has become a minority investor in Volocopter, along with existing investors such as Daimler.
Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, said of the Geely’s investment: “We are delighted to see our partners at Geely investing into Volocopter and becoming shareholders as we are since 2017. Daimler is committed to supporting innovative new mobility services. One exciting example is Volocopter and the idea of urban air transport.”
The two founders of the young German company, Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel – both individual shareholders – jointly remain the company’s largest shareholder.
Li Shufu, Geely Holding Chairman, said that “Geely is transitioning from being an automotive manufacturer to a mobility technology group, investing in and developing a wide range of next-generation technologies. Our latest cooperation with Daimler, building on our partnership in smart and premium ride-hailing services, as well as our joint venture with Volocopter, underlines our confidence in Volocopter air taxis as the next ambitious step in our wider expansion in both electrification and new mobility services.”
Recently, the Germany company announced that Volocopter and British Skyports plan to complete the first port for electric air taxis before the end of this year. The launch will see the partners demonstrate passenger areas and process the prototype of a mobile Volo port. The ports are a large part of the final design of the VTOL as they enable quick and repeated battery swaps. Volocopter aims to exchange the batteries at every stop within three minutes.
The German company is also trialling their aircraft at airports and recently announced its intention to cooperate with Frankfurt Airport. In late August, Volocopter performed a piloted flight at Helsinki International Airport with the airport’s air traffic management system, showing that the air taxis are compatible with existing solutions. Towards the end of October this year, the Urban Air Mobility pioneer will present its VoloPort air taxi landing infrastructure at the ITS WC in Singapore.