California aviation company planning to build flying cars in Ohio
Joby has selected Dayton as the site of its new manufacturing facility
One of Joby’s aircraft. (Courtesy of Joby Aviation. (c) Joby Aero, Inc.)
A California-based ‘flying car’ company called Joby has selected Dayton as the site for its new $500 million manufacturing facility. Joby says the plant will employ up to 2,000 workers and produce 500 of its vertical take-off planes a year.
Joby’s flying cars are a mix of helicopter and plane. It’s six rotors allow it to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. But once in the air, they pivot forward, like the propellers on a plane. In the industry, the vehicles are known as eVOTL, or electric vertical take-off and landing, aircraft.
The model Joby plans to build in Dayton can carry a pilot and four passengers. The vehicle is all-electric and according to the company it can reach speeds up to 200 mph and travel a range of 100 miles.
The company has backing from Toyota and sees its aircraft as a kind of greener air taxi. For instance, Joby has struck deals with Delta and Uber to provide short range air travel. But the company is working with U.S. Defense Department as well.
Joby has contracted with the U.S. Air Force to provide and operated up to nine eVOTL aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in California. In a press release Joby noted interest from all four of the major military branches, and that the Marine Corps is considering eVOTL aircraft for “resupply, personnel transport, and emergency medical response applications.”
Joby’s new site is at the Dayton international airport. The company noted the 140-acre parcel leaves them room to grow. According to Joby they have enough space for two million square feet of production space.
The company had plenty of business and financial reasons to select Dayton. JobsOhio and the Department of Development for instance, are offering more than $200 million in incentives to bolster Joby’s half billion-dollar investment. According to Joby its total incentive package, including local agreements, could be worth as much as $325 million.
The proximity to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, is a plus as well. The company has worked closely with the Air Force Research Laboratory, located at the base, as it developed its aircraft.
But at Monday’s announcement state and company officials couldn’t resist the more poetic reasons for choosing the city.
“The Wright brothers made the impossible possible,” Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said. “They opened the skies for all of us, and they did it right here in Dayton, the birthplace of aviation.”
Bevirt hopes his aircraft can “fundamentally change the way we live and travel” as the Wright brothers did at the turn of the last century.
To punctuate Monday’s event — hosted at Orville Wright’s former home — attendees got a fly by from a replica Model B Flyer.
Next generation manufacturing
Gov. Mike DeWine drew links between Joby and Ohio’s “rich aviation history.” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown expanded on that history, adding Geraldine Mock, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong to the list.
But DeWine primarily portrayed the deal as another example of the state positioning itself for industries of the future.
“Our state has proven time and time again that we will lead the next wave of innovation,” DeWine insisted. “We created powered flight. We lead the space race and now we will lead the electric aviation revolution and power the skies of the future.”
Over the last year and half, DeWine’s administration has inked deals to bring Intel to Ohio and expand Honda’s footprint in the state by building a battery plant with LG.
Since that Intel announcement Brown has made a habit of describing how Ohio is “burying” its Rust Belt moniker. He described how Joby joins NASA Glenn in Cleveland, the Armstrong Center in Sandusky, and GE’s jet engine production outside Cincinnati as developments that help put Ohio’s manufacturing slump in the past.
Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who represents Dayton, gave DeWine credit for landing the agreement. Turner described meeting with Bevirt earlier this year to discuss the prospect of building in Ohio.
“I must tell you, in that meeting, he was not optimistic,” Turner said. “We were not competitive. We were not top of the list. What changed? The difference? The difference is Governor DeWine and JobsOhio.”
In addition to the $325 million incentive package, Joby may be getting federal help with financing its portion of the Dayton investment. In its press release, the company described applying for a low interest loan program through the Department of Energy.
Joby will maintain its California headquarters, but construction on the Dayton facility should begin next year. They expect it to be up and running by 2025.
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