Ridesharing company Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) has sold its flying taxi business Elevate to electric aircraft company Joby Aviation.
The Elevate unit is the second business that the company has sold in a week as it seeks to excise its cash losing business to carve a path to profitability. The sale comes after Uber announced the sale of the self-driving business to autonomous car startup Aurora.
Uber invested $125 million in Joby
The companies described the deal as an expanded partnership, and a deal will include Uber investing around $75 million in Joby. In 2019 Joby, which is creating an all-electric passenger aircraft, signed a deal with Uber to be its partner for the Elevate initiative. Joby has committed that it will be deploying air taxi services in two years. Interestingly the $75 million investment is an addition to the undisclosed $50 million investment that Uber made in January this year as part of Joby’s Series C funding round. So far, Joby has raised around $820 million to date, with Uber investing around $125 million in total in the startup.
Uber choose Joby for its electric flying taxi business
Uber had first demonstrated its interest in electric flying taxis in 2016. As per the company’s calculations, a two-hour 12-minute slog between San Francisco and San Jose could reduce to 15 minutes through a flying car. Also, a two hour ten minutes struggle through Sao Paulo congestion could become a breezy 18-minutes ride. In 2019, Uber introduced helicopter rides to JFK International Airport from Manhattan to taste what the experience will be when using the Uber app to summon a flight.
Joby has raised funds from venture capital arms of JetBlue, Toyota, and Intel. Funds raised helped in developing its air taxi prototype that has conducted test flights at its private airfield in Northern California. Unlike most companies creating electric vertical take-off and passenger landing aircraft, Joby kept its project under wraps. Its all-electric aircraft is similar to a helicopter and can reach a speed of 200 mph.