Volocopter, a German startup that makes electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, has secured $182 million in its second Series E round signature. This is on top of the $170 million Volocopter raised for the same round in March at a post-money valuation of $1.87 billion.
Volocopter is currently in full swing testing the two-seater VoloCity air taxi against 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 the Special Agreement for certification of small VTOL aircraft and by extension to commercialisation. Volocopter hopes to certify its aircraft by the second half of 2023 and begin initial revenue-generating routes by 2024, the company said.
So far, EASA has granted Volocopter Design Agency Approval in 2019 and Production Agency Approval in 2021 — two prerequisites for the VoloCity to obtain type certification and commercial release.
The additional funds for Volocopter’s Series E will also help prepare the urban aerial mobility ecosystem – including infrastructure, integration with other forms of mobility and public awareness – so that when VoloCity is certified, Volocopter can begin to deliver rides immediately, according to a spokesperson.
“The first commercial operations will be a small number of Volocopters flying specific routes (perhaps one or two) with paying customers,” Helena Treeck, head of public relations at Volocopter, told TechCrunch via email. “From there, the route network will continue to grow to offer more and more routes and flights on connections where we can really add value (beyond the fantastic view) to our customers, such as time savings and service predictability.”
VoloCity conducted its first public test flight with crew from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport earlier this month, where the startup also unveiled its VoloIQ digital platform that Volocopter says supports everything from customer bookings to flight management. This may be Rome Volocopter’s first choice for market launch, 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 joined this round as a lead investor, along with Hong Kong’s GLy Capital Management, a Geely-backed private equity firm focused on smart cars, electrification and smart cities. Neom and Volocopter formed a joint venture last December to integrate the VoloCity air taxi and VoloDrone, the startup’s heavy-lifting electric drone, into Neon’s connected mobility systems. The city has already ordered 15 Volocopter aircraft to begin first flight operations within the next one to two years.
Volocopter has also formed a joint venture with Geely Holding to bring urban air mobility to China. The JV signed a deal last year to buy 150 Volocopter aircraft, and Geely is expected to help with production.