The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

On The Radar

Possible New Toyota eVTOL Design Spotted in the Mojave Desert

It takes a village and expert use of long-lens cameras to reveal all of the secrets that would-be eVTOL aircraft developers trying to keep under wraps. So kudos to The Drive's Tyler Rogoway and aviation photographer Jack Beyer for blowing the cover of what appears to be part of Toyota's plans to expand in this sector.

Photographs taken at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California show a mystery design that appears to be an eVTOL aircraft designed for cargo-carrying purposes. This assumption is based on its tall landing gear, which would accommodate freight pods below the fuselage. The aircraft features four horizontally-mounted propellers and a pusher prop at the rear for the cruise phase of flight.

The aircraft's tail number (N871YT) indicates that it is registered to Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing (headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan). Logos on its boom tail look like those associated with Toyota's Project Portal, which is working on a new truck powered by hydrogen fuel cells. This begs the question as to whether the Japanese car giant is working on a hydrogen-powered eVTOL aircraft, which would be big news.

Toyota has yet to respond to questions from FutureFlight about this sighting, which has also been showing up online in Reddit postings.

What we do know is that in January 2020, Toyota announced a major new investment in eVTOL startup Joby Aviation. So could the aircraft seen skulking in the Mojave desert be associated with Joby's long-standing plans for a passenger-carrying eVTOL or something completely different?