South Korean telecommunications company SK Telecom has made a $100 million equity investment in air taxi developer Joby Aviation.
The investment is part of an “expanded partnership”, the companies said on 29 June.
“Our partnership with SKT places Joby in the best possible position to capitalise on the opportunity presented by the Korean market, where we continue to see a strong drive from the government to realise aerial ride-sharing,” says Joby chief executive JoeBen Bevirt.
“This technology promises to greatly reduce customers’ travel time and we look forward to turning Korea into a mobility powerhouse,” SKT’s CEO Ryu Young-sang says.
The agreement was executed earlier this week and paves the way for Joby to participate in Korea’s “K-UAM Grand Challenge”, a demonstration programme led by the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport designed to foster adoption of aerial ride sharing in Korea.
Joby and SKT have been collaborating since February 2022, and the companies say the new investment “is expected to lead to the development of further partnerships across the mobility ecosystem in Korea, led by SKT”.
On 28 June, Joby unveiled its first production prototype aircraft, built at its production facility in Marina, California.
That aircraft – anticipated to be the first electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) to be delivered to a customer – will undergo testing before being shipped to the US Air Force (USAF) in 2024 as part of Joby’s $131 million contract with the USAF’s Agility Prime programme.
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted the aircraft a special airworthiness certificate, meaning Joby has clearance to begin flight testing the prototype.