Volocopter, a German startup building electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, has raised $182 million for the second signing of its Series E round. That’s on top of the $170 million that Volocopter raised for the same round in March at a post-money valuation of $1.87 billion.
Volocopter is currently in full swing testing its two-seat VoloCity air taxi based on the requirements set by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The new funds will flow into the company’s testing regime to bring it closer to: Special condition for small category VTOL aircraft certification, and by extension, commercialization. Volocopter hopes to certify its aircraft by the second half of 2023 and launch its first revenue-generating rides by 2024, the company said.
Until now, the EASA promised Volocopter design organization approval in 2019 and production organization approval in 2021 – two prerequisites for obtaining type certification for the VoloCity and for commercial launch.
The additional resources for Volocopter’s Series E will also help prepare the urban air mobility ecosystem — including infrastructure, integration with other modes of mobility and public awareness — so once the VoloCity is certified, Volocopter can begin offering rides immediately, according to a spokesperson. .
“The first commercial operations will be a small number of Volocopters flying on specific routes (maybe one or two) with paying customers,” Helena Treeck, Volocopter’s head of PR, told londonbusinessblog.com via email. “From there, the network of routes will continue to grow to offer more and more routes and flights on connections, where we can really add value (beyond the fantastic view) for our customers, such as time savings and predictability of services.”
The VoloCity took its first manned public test flight earlier this month from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, where the startup also demonstrated its digital VoloIQ platform that Volocopter says supports everything from customer bookings to managing flight operations. That could be Rome Volocopter’s first choice for market introduction, but also on the table are cities like Singapore, Paris and Neom, a smart city being built north of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Province.
Neom entered this round as lead investor, alongside Hong Kong-based GLy Capital Management, a Geely-backed private equity firm focused on smart cars, electrification and intelligent cities. Neom and Volocopter formed a joint venture company last December to integrate the VoloCity air taxi and the VoloDrone, the electric heavy-lift drone, into Neon’s connected mobility systems. The city has already placed an order from 15 Volocopter Aircraft to launch the first flight operations within the next one to two years.
Volocopter has also formed JV with Geely Holding to bring urban air mobility to China. The joint venture signed an agreement last year to purchase 150 Volocopter aircraft and Geely is expected to assist in production.