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Joby Aviation targets parking garages for its aerial ridesharing network

Joby Aviation is partnering with one of the country’s largest parking garage operators and a real estate acquisition company to build out its network of vertiports, with an initial focus on Los Angeles, Miami, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area, the company said Wednesday.

The partnership with REFF Technology and Neighborhood Property Group will give Joby “access to an unparalleled range of rooftop locations across all key metropolitan areas in the US, as well as a mechanism to fund the acquisition and development of new skyport sites,” Joby said in a statement.

Building out a convenient, accessible and large network of locations to hitch a ride on an air taxi will likely be a key factor determining which companies succeed in attracting would-be riders to their service. The current infrastructure to support helicopters is limited, especially in urban areas, where electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) companies intend to launch.

The deal will give Joby exclusive access to the sites for a period, during which it said it can secure long-term leases within REEF’s real estate network.

Until now little has been known about the electric aircraft giant’s intentions regarding its aerial ridesharing network, although founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt has publicly talked about the benefits of using existing parking garages.

Such structures are typically in dense areas, they’re large and they’re built out of robust material that can support multiple small aircraft. But perhaps most importantly, parking garages already house cars, another form of transportation that will likely work hand-in-hand with air taxis in serving first- and last-mile segments of a journey.

REEF, which began as parking lot management and servicing company ParkJockey, now operates around 4,500 mobility and logistics hubs that it says reaches 70% of the North American urban population. REEF raised $700 million from SoftBank, the Mubadala Corp. and others last November.

In addition to the new partnership, Joby said its vertiport network will 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,” Bevirt said 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.

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