German urban air mobility company Volocopter announced that it has closed its first Series C funding round. The new funding, led by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Holding), which owns several car brands, including Volvo, will be used to bring the company's VoloCity aircraft to commercial launch, the company said.
Volocopter, which has been building “drone-like electric flying taxis” for an “urban commercial passenger transportation service,” closed $55.1 million in the funding round and, according to CFO Rene Griemens, will be used for additional R&D, as reported by TechCrunch.
Volocopter is one of several companies aiming to commercialize flying cars. The market for the futuristic endeavor “could be worth $674 billion by 2040,” a 2018 Morgan Stanley study found, the Financial Times reported.
The company intends to use the Series C funding to meet safety and other regulatory requirements, continue work on other upcoming models, and fine-tuning business development around commercial launches, Griemens told TechCrunch.
The commercial air taxi market is crowded, despite few models actually taking flight yet. Uber is testing a flying taxi service at various summits throughout the U.S. and Australia. Uber Air, as it is tentatively called, should be able to operate under existing aviation laws and regulations, which makes it an attractive venture, its top executive said.
Even so, industry leaders have cited several obstacles ahead of the flying car industry, suggesting commercialization will take some time to realize. But, once that point is reached, the industry holds promise as a way to relieve congestion and cut harmful emissions.
Volocopter, and startups with similar visions, represent a “credible version of the future of transportation,” TechCrunch said, and “investing in and working with [them] gives [investors] a shot at playing a key role and having a financial stake in that market.”