Air Taxi Startup Volocopter Gets Fresh Capital From China

The German urban air mobility startup Volocopter announced that it signed the first closing of its Series C funding round, which is being led by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Holding). The company received 50 million euros. The new funds will be used towards bringing the VoloCity aircraft to commercial launch within the next three years. The first closing will increase the total capital that Volocopter has raised to 85 million euros.

Volocopter builds electrically powered air taxis. The aim is to save people time and to help megacities transform their transportation systems towards a more sustainable future by adding a new mobility option for their citizens. The company has performed numerous public demonstrations of the viability of electrically powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), most recently it successfully completed a flight at Helsinki International Airport. Another flight is scheduled to take place in Stuttgart this month.

“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.” 

Geely Holding, the privately-owned automotive group from China which has a portfolio of global brands including Geely Auto, Volvo Cars, and Lotus, as well as other automotive brands, led the Series C funding round. Geely Holding becomes a minority investor in Volocopter, next to existing strategic investors like Daimler. The founders, Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel both individual shareholders, jointly remain the company’s largest shareholder. Volocopter remains in discussions with additional investors for a second closing around year-end.

The business with flying taxis is by no means new for Geely as an investor. In 2017, the Chinese entered Terrafugia, which ten years ago introduced the first prototype of a flying car called Transition. This is a completely different concept then the Volocopter – it is an airplane whose wings can be folded, creating a two-seater car.

Volocopter and Geely Holding have agreed to enter into a joint venture to bring Urban Air Mobility to the Chinese market. Li Shufu, Geely Holding Chairman, said: “Geely is transitioning from being an automotive manufacturer to a mobility technology group, investing in and developing a wide range of next-generation technologies.”

The competition for the Germans is fierce: after 2,000 test flights, the Chinese air taxi-Startup Ehang wants to start regular operations already this year.

Just recently Volocopter presented the design for VoloCity, its new air taxi, which has been created according to the specifications put forward by EASA. At the Green Tech Festival in Berlin earlier this year, Volocopter announced its cooperation with the British startup Skyports, which will take care of the necessary infrastructure. The so-called VoloPort will be presented at the ITS WC in Singapore, from 22 – 25 October 2019 in Singapore.

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