September 9, 2019 / 5:04 AM / 9 days ago

Geely to bring air taxis to China in tie-up with Daimler-backed Volocopter

FILE PHOTO: A two-seater Volocopter drone flies on stage at the Intel Keynote address at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - German startup Volocopter said it plans to form a partnership with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group that will bring its air taxis to China and that it has raised 50 million euros ($55.13 million) in fresh funding from the Chinese company and others.

Volocopter, which says it is building the world’s first manned, electric and vertical takeoff air taxis, said in a statement on Monday that the other investors in the new funding round include German luxury car maker Daimler (DAIGn.DE), which it had previously raised money from.

It did not say how much each investor contributed, but added that the most recent deal increases the total capital it has raised to 85 million euros, and that the new funds will be used toward bringing its VoloCity aircraft to commercial launch within the next three years.

Geely’s chairman Li Shufu said in the statement that the investment reflected how the Chinese company is transitioning to become a mobility technology group, investing in and developing a wide range of next-generation technologies.

The co-operation underlines “our confidence in Volocopter air taxis as the next ambitious step in our wider expansion in both electrification and new mobility services,” Li said.

The investment is not Geely’s first bet on flying machines. It is building a plant in China’s central city of Wuhan to make Terrafugia branded flying cars, company documents show.

Geely bought a 9.7% stake in Daimler in 2018. The companies have said they plan to build the next generation of Smart electric cars in China through a joint venture. They also plan to form a premium ride-hailing joint venture in China.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharman

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