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Geely makes a sky-high investment

Zhejiang company takes a minority stake in German air taxis startup Volocopter as it transforms from car manufacturer to mobility technology group.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has taken a minority stake in German air taxis startup Volocopter as it aims to transform from car manufacturer to mobility technology group.

The two have agreed to form a joint venture to bring air taxis to China. The joint venture's name and when it will be established was not disclosed. 

Geely led a Series C funding round of investment that raised 50 million euros (US$55 million) and became a minority investor in Volocopter, next to existing strategic investors such as Daimler. Daimler has owned a stake in the startup since 2017. Founders Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel, both individual shareholders, jointly remain the company’s largest shareholder.

Li Shufu, Geely Holding's chairman, said Geely is investing in and developing a wide range of next-generation technologies. Li said the joint venture underlines Geely's confidence in Volocopter air taxis as the next ambitious step in wider expansion in both electrification and new mobility services.

Volocopter, founded in 2011, builds electrically powered air taxis. The company aims to help cities transform their transport systems toward a more sustainable future by adding a new mobility option for their citizens. 

“Urban mobility needs to evolve in the next few years to meet rising demand. With our Volocopter air taxis, we are adding a whole new level of mobility in the skies,” said Florian Reuter, the company's CEO. 

Volocopter has more than 150 employees in offices in Bruchsal, Munich and Singapore.The company has raised a total of 85 million euros from investors including Daimler, Geely and Intel.

It is not the first time Geely has extended its business into the aviation field. In November 2017, it completed the acquisition of US flying-car developer Terrafugia, a firm founded in 2006 by five MIT graduates. Terrafugia is aiming to put a two-seat aircraft that can switch between driving and flying mode on the market this year. 

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