Joby’s deal with REEF could help bring air taxis to Miami as soon as 2024

While you are stuck in Miami traffic this week getting nowhere fast, consider this: Getting up, up and away in an air taxi is a little closer to reality.

Joby Aviation, a California-based company developing all-electric aircraft for commercial passenger service, announced it has partnered with Miami-based REEF Technology and the REEF-affiliated real estate company Neighborhood Property Group to develop takeoff and landing sites for its aerial ridesharing service.

Joby’s plan is to launch the service in 2024, and Miami is one of the initial markets, along with LA, New York and San Francisco.

REEF is the country’s largest parking garage operator focused on transforming them into multi-use mobility hubs. REEF’s assets include more than 5,000 sites across North America and Europe and reach more than 70% of the American public. In November, REEF, one of Miami’s unicorns, raised $700 million from SoftBank, the Mubadala Corp. and others.

“With our focus on transforming urban spaces into community hubs that enable the future of mobility, aerial ridesharing is a compelling opportunity for us to decarbonize travel and make better use of structures such as parking garages,” said Philippe Saint-Just, SVP of Product and co-founder of REEF, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to work with Joby to bring this transformational electric aerial mobility to life, and to help realize its potential for cities and their neighborhoods.”

Joby is among dozens of companies racing to develop service for  eVTOLs, electric airplane that take off and land vertically, including several eying Miami. Morgan Stanley predicts eVTOLs will be a trillion dollar market by 2040.

Joby, founded in 2009, appears to be ahead of the pack, Bloomberg reported, because it has been working with the FAA longer than any of its competitors and has raised more money too, including $400 million from Toyota and $75 million from Uber; in December 2020, Joby also acquired Uber Elevate. Joby plans to go public this summer with a SPAC created by Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s founder, which will raise $1.6 billion.

Joby  intends to offer a passenger service, accessible via an app. Its eVTOLs can travel up to 150 miles on a single charge and can transport a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 mph, according to the company.  

Joby also says its aircraft is more than 100 times quieter than a conventional helicopter, and it sees a significant opportunity to deliver its aerial ridesharing service from downtown locations, repurposing the top level of many parking garage structures.  This would allow Joby to deliver customers as close to their destination as possible, while minimizing any local impact and reducing the need for building new infrastructure. Joby also plans to use existing heliport and regional airport locations.

“This is a landmark deal on Joby’s path to building a transformational ridesharing service in our skies,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby Aviation, in a statement. “NPG and REEF have an unbeatable network of sites across the US and we’re excited to be working with them to identify sites that will become the backbone of our future service.

Joby is far from the only air taxi company salivating over the Miami market. In March, I reported that Joby had signaled its interest in the Magic City, while Archer and and Lilium had already announced plans to bring the service in. All the companies are circling 2024 or 2025 for takeoff. Stay tuned.

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