Joby Aviation takes over Uber's air taxi business

09 December 2020 - 08:04 By Reuters
Joby Aviation is taking over Uber Technologies Inc's flying taxi unit, Elevate.
Joby Aviation is taking over Uber Technologies Inc's flying taxi unit, Elevate.
Image: Joby Aviation

Joby Aviation, an electric passenger aircraft developer, said on Tuesday it would take over Uber Technologies Inc's flying taxi unit, Elevate, the second cash-burning business the ride-hailing company has sold off in two days.

Joby did not disclose the terms of the deal, but said Uber had also agreed to invest a further $75m (roughly R1,119,187,500) in the Santa Cruz, California-based company, bringing its total investment to $125m (roughly R1,865,312,500).

Joby has raised more than $720m (roughly R10,749,564,000) in funding since it was founded in 2009, most of it from Toyota Motor Corp.

On Monday Uber announced the sale of its self-driving unit to autonomous vehicle startup Aurora in a move it said would accelerate the ride-sharing company's goal to achieve profitability.

Uber has promised investors to achieve profitability on a basis of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation by the end of 2021. During the last quarter, Uber reported a $625m (roughly R9,331,218,750) adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) loss.

The company has said it would focus on its core ride-hailing and food delivery platforms to achieve profitability, and implemented stringent cost-cutting measures, including large rounds of layoffs.

While losses at Uber's self-driving, Elevate and other technology programmes had slightly narrowed this year, the company still reported a third quarter $104m (roughly R1,552,517,200) adjusted EBITDA loss for the segment.

Elevate began in 2016 and its team until earlier this year promised the launch of flying taxi services in Los Angeles and Dallas in the US and Melbourne in Australia in 2023.

On Tuesday Uber and Joby said they would each integrate the other company's services into their own app to allow customers to book seamless ground and air transportation in the future.

In January Uber announced it had partnered with South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co to develop electric air taxis as part of its Elevate program.

Hyundai did not immediately respond to a request for comment.