The investments highlight Toyota's evolving approach to the wild world of venture capital.
In SkyDrive's case, the funding was pitched as a helping hand for young, enthusiastic engineers. "It has nothing to do with Toyota's business," Toyota spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said.
For Joby, the outlay is a serious bet on a future technology trend.
"Emerging eVTOL aircraft technologies have much in common with those of next-generation environment-friendly automobiles in areas like electrification, new materials and connected technologies," the Toyota spokeswoman said. "Toyota believes that eVTOL has the potential to evolve as a new type of mobility that has real synergies with the automobile business."
Joby, which has also secured the backing of other giants such as Uber Technologies, went public in August, selling investors on its vision for launching a fleet of air taxis by 2024. Its aircraft more closely resembles a multi-rotor helicopter than a "flying car," as such craft are often called.
SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa says his company ranks No. 3 on the global stage in this nascent industry and acknowledges Joby as the world leader. But he says there is plenty of room for multiple players and wants SkyDrive to be Japan's homegrown air mobility champion.
"More than 10 companies said they would launch in 2020, but nobody has started yet," he said at a Sept. 22 news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "Not only one maker wins it all. Just like in automobiles or motorbikes, there might be many."
The SkyDrive team — which has its testing facility in the mountains of Toyota City — wants to start a commercial service in Osaka at the World Expo 2025.