The automotive group behind Lotus and Volvo has led a €50 million (£44 million) Series C investment in Volocopter, a German drone manufacturer that claims it is on track to bring on-demand air taxis to urban areas in the next three years.
Founded in 2012, Volocopter designs and manufactures electric multi-rotor helicopters for commercial use.
Its latest model the VoloCity is the company’s fourth-generation electric aircraft. The Volocity gets airborne via 18 electric powered rotors. The vehicle can travel up to 70 mph, with a range of 22 miles.
The funding round comes after its Volocopter 2X was integrated into the airspace of Helsinki international airport on August 29 in a historic test flight; marking the first time an electric airtaxi has flown while fully integrated into the air traffic management system at an international airport.
The helicopter is intended to work as an air taxi in urban environments and is able to carry two passengers, with luggage.
This latest funding came in a series C round which brought total investment for the company to £75 million-equivalent. Previous investors into the firm include Intel and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler.
Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter commented on the funding round that: “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. 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.”
Reuter added of the company’s latest vehicle: “It is rigorously designed to meet the demands of Urban Air Mobility and incorporates all requirements of the SC-VTOL certification standard established by EASA in July 2019. It is a result of all insights we have gathered from our extensive testing programmes over the past years.”
Chinese automotive group Geely Holding, which led the latest funding round, has received a 10 percent share of the company according to its CFO Rene Griemens.
Next month Volocopter will present its plans for VoloPort, the firm’s air taxi landing infrastructure, at conference in Singapore which could potentially be one of the first markets for the on-demand taxi service.
Li Shufu, Geely Holding Chairman commented: “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.”