The Vermont-based electric aviation startup Beta Technologies has just closed a Series A round of funding that brought in $368 million. The funding round was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, and includes an investment from the high profile Amazon Climate Fund. What portion of the investment came from the Amazon fund is as yet unknown. The Amazon fund is a $2 billion pledge fund set to invest in sustainable technologies, and it has already made investments into companies such as battery and e-waste recycling company Redwood and electric vehicle company Rivian.
Beta Technologies Series A fund is the second round of funding the company has brought in during 2021. Earlier this year, it raised $143 million in private capital. The new round of funding sees the company reach a valuation of $1.4 billion, which gives it unicorn status. Beta now joins companies like Joby Aviation in the exclusive electric aviation billionaires club.
What is interesting about Beta Technologies in comparison to other eVTOL companies is that it is not totally focused on air taxis, but instead it is catering to the logistics, defense market, and medical delivery markets. Beta has already received an order from delivery giant UPS for 10 of its aircraft, with an option to order 150 more. It also has deals in place with United Therapeutics and the US Air Force. Through a partnership with Blade Air Mobility, Beta will also supply a number of aircraft for short haul passenger flights, but this is not the main focus. The delivery date for both the UPS and the Blade Air Mobility orders is 2024.
The Alia vehicle that Beta Technologies has developed is capable of carrying a maximum load of 1,500 pounds and has a range of 250 miles. This could be a key factor in Amazon’s decision to invest in the company. This range and load could effectively replace many deliveries that use conventional aircraft or trucks for this same distance and weight.
As with all new electric aviation technology, there are still regulatory hurdles to clear before the aircraft are able to officially take to the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration needs to provide certification for the vehicles. If all goes according to Beta’s plan, it will achieve the certified status by 2024. In the next few years we might be seeing the famous Amazon smiling logo zipping by over our heads as well as on the roads.
Featured image courtesy Beta Technologies.