Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DB Schenker invests in autonomous aircraft maker Volocopter

Steve Rogerson
February 25, 2020



DB Schenker has led a series C investment round in German autonomous aircraft maker Volocopter, bringing its total funding to €122m.
 
Volocopter is developing autonomous electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, such as the VoloCity, to offer air taxi services in cities as an addition to existing transport options. The funding will go towards the certification of the VoloCity, hiring more industry experts and a second generation VoloDrone to ensure commercialisation of the heavy-lift cargo drone product.
 
“We are convinced that the Volocopter technology has the potential to bring transport logistics to the next dimension for our customers,” said Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker. “DB Schenker has already tested autonomous and electrical vehicles in several innovation projects and in actual operations. By integrating the VoloDrone into our supply chain of the future, we will be able to serve our clients’ demand for fast, remote, emission-neutral deliveries. We are thrilled to now be part of this drive for innovation in a fantastic team.”
 
Also joining the €87m series C round are Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group, MS&AD Ventures, and TransLink Capital (Japan Airlines and Sompo Japan Insurance), along with existing shareholders Lukasz Gadowski and BtoV.
 
Recently, the company performed a public flight over the Marina Bay reservoir in Singapore, demonstrating the maturity of its technology. A full scale VoloPort prototype on display allowed visitors to experience what urban air mobility (UAM) could feel like in the future. In October, Volocopter presented the demonstrator of its VoloDrone, marking the company’s expansion into the logistics, agriculture, public services and construction industries.
 
“The new shareholder structure strengthens our global network of strategic and financial partners significantly,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “Bringing urban air mobility to life for passengers and goods is a great ambition and, with our new partners, we bring the expertise and necessary long-term funds on board to make this innovative form of mobility a reality.”
 
With the round’s closing, the company has also appointed Yifan “Frank” Li, vice president of Geely Holding Group, and Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker, as additions to its advisory board. In a move towards enhancing its corporate governance, Volocopter is bringing on two independent advisory board members with industry expertise. These are former CEO of Daimler Dieter Zetsche, and the founder of CAS Software, Martin Hubschneider.
 
“We very much welcome the new members to our advisory board, in particular Dieter Zetsche and Martin Hubschneider,” said Volocopter’s chairman Stefan Klocke. “The board will support the management in the further strategic development of the company towards the global market leader in urban air mobility and in the preparations for a potential future IPO.”
 
Volocopter has recently championed several public flights at Helsinki airport, in Stuttgart, and over Singapore’s Marina Bay. As the first eVTOL company to receive Design Organisation Approval by the European Aviation Safety Authority, the air taxi service provider is already actively pursuing commercial certification and expects the first commercial routes to be opened within the next two to four years.
 
In 2011, Volocopter performed the first-ever manned flight of a purely electric multicopter and has since showcased numerous public flights with its full-scale aircraft.
 
Founded in 2011 by Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel, Volocopter has 150 employees in offices in Bruchsal, Munich and Singapore. The company is managed by CEO Florian Reuter, CTO Jan-Hendrik Boelens, CFO Rene Griemens and CCO Christian Bauer. Volocopter‘s investors include Daimler, Geely, DB Schenker, Intel Capital, Team Europe, BtoV, Micron, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group, TransLink Capital, MS&AD Ventures and Manta Ray Ventures.
 
With more than 75,800 employees at more than 2000 locations in over 130 countries, DB Schenker is a major logistics provider. The company operates land, air and ocean transportation services. Its investment in Volocopter is subject to various closing matters.