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Flying-taxi maker lands €50M as the battle for the skies takes off

Volocopter has raised a €50 million round (around $55 million). The German startup faces fierce competition from tech giants and aerospace incumbents racing to bring their products to market.

How to get around is a question that plagues millions of city dwellers as global hubs increasingly face problems caused by transport and traffic. VCs have been pouring millions into innovative solutions such as e-bikes and e-scooters to help alleviate the strain, but there is one area that has remained relatively untapped: the sky.

German startup Volocopter is leaning into the sky’s potential with the first closing of its Series C, which brought in €50 million (around $55 million). The capital will fund the commercial launch of VoloCity, an electric take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with a range of 35 kilometers and an airspeed of up to 110 kilometers per hour. Airborne personal transport appears to soon be reality, creating a world free from the daily grind of traffic jams—a revolution in urban commuting that will have us whizzing across the skies at the tap of an app.

The round was led by Chinese auto giant Geely Automobile Holdings, who will take a minority stake in Volocopter and work with the business to launch its air taxis in China. Volocopter founders Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel, meanwhile, will jointly continue to be the company’s largest shareholder.

The latest round values Volocopter at between €200 million and €250 million and brings the business’ total funding to €85 million, per TechCrunch, with the second closing of the Series C expected to take place around the end of the year. Volocopter secured €25 million from investors including Daimler and German entrepreneur Lukasz Gadowski in 2017.

Competition for urban air supremacy has commenced as startups, tech giants and aerospace incumbents race to bring similar products to the market. Uber unveiled a reference design for its Uber Air service earlier this year, and Airbus has been testing its own flying car, which would be capable of transporting both passengers and automobiles.

And it isn’t just big names that are reaching for the sky. Fellow German aviation startup Lilium closed a $90 million Series B from Tencent, Atomico and Obvious Ventures in 2017. Across the pond, Northern California-based Joby Aviation raised $100 million in an Intel Capital-led round last year for its eVTOL aircraft.

Volocopter does have one edge on its competitors. Its latest investor, Geely, already made its first foray into the realm of flying cars when it bought Boston-based Terrafugia in 2017. Back on the ground, the investor owns stakes in a whole host of auto companies including Volvo, black taxi maker London Electric Vehicle Company and British sports-carmaker Lotus.

Geely was subject to controversy last year when it reportedly became the biggest investor in Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler, accumulating a near 10% holding worth around €7.3 billion. The German government is said to have expressed concern that Chinese businesses could exert too much influence over European economies through foreign investments. And with several stakes in the transportation industry, Geely is in a good position to conquer not only the roads, but also the sky.

Featured image courtesy of Volocopter

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    Written by Leah Hodgson
    Leah Hodgson is a London-based senior reporter for PitchBook covering venture capital across Europe and the Middle East. Leah graduated from the University of Surrey with a BA in international politics with French. She has previously been a radio reporter in France. She later turned to financial journalism, covering the wealth management industry. She joined PitchBook in 2018.
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