Volocopter's series E round has just got larger with a funding commitment from Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corp, which is also coming on board as a strategic partner to bring Japanese VoloCity eVTOL aircraft into service by 2025.
The news comes months after the passenger air taxi pioneer announced the second series E close, with an additional $182 million from Red Sea regional developer NEOM and Hong Kong's GLy Capital Management.
GLy Capital's support was regarded as a growth pathway into Hong Kong. Already, Volocopter had completed a South Korean test flight, announced in November 2021, and with Sumitomo's involvement the east Asian strategy has received a further boost.
Volocopter first committed to a Japanese market entry in 2018, and claims to be a "frontrunner" to deliver UAMs to market. In addition to raising funds, Volocopter said its application to the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, for its concurrent type certification VoloCity aircraft, had been "accepted."
Japanese regulators are among three non-European agencies currently validating its urban air mobility system, together with Singapore's civil aviation authority and the FAA in the US.
Following Sumitomo's investment, the Bruchsal-HQed startup will showcase a VoloCity replica at an Osaka shopping mall next month.
The model air taxi won't actually fly but will be as large as the actual VTOL vehicle, hopefully fostering public awareness of electric air taxis in regional markets.
Christian Bauer, Volocopter chief commercial officer, commented: "Committing to fly and enter a market is no small feat, but for Volocopter and Japan, who are both pioneers in the UAM space, it just makes sense.
"Over the past few years, Volocopter has made significant progress toward becoming an integral part of the team that will bring UAM to life in Japan in 2025, thanks to partners like Sumitomo, EASA, and JCAB who share our vision. "
Volocopter is expecting to receive regulatory approval in 2024 from the European Union Aviation Safety Authority.