Photo/IllutrationElectric vertical take-off and landing aircraft developed by U.S. firm Joby Aviation (Provided by Toyota Motor Corp.)

Summoning a flying taxi to lift you above the city and on to your destination. This may not be far from reality.

Toyota Motor Corp. has invested $394 million (about 43 billion yen) in a U.S. venture firm that develops aerial vehicles, as the automaker seeks to make its mark in the sky by offering air mobility services.

Toyota will accelerate development of new forms of air transportation by leveraging its expertise in car production and technology development, it announced Jan. 16.

"Air transportation has been a long-term goal for Toyota," company President Akio Toyoda said in a statement. "We hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky."

Headquartered in California, Joby Aviation was established in 2009. The company is developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to offer flying taxi services in the future.

"I am excited to harness Toyota's engineering and manufacturing prowess," JoeBen Bevirt, Joby's founder and CEO, said in a statement released through Toyota.

Toyota said it believes developing eVTOL aircraft will bring synergy to the development of technologies used in next-generation eco-friendly vehicles, as they have many common areas, such as motorization and novel materials.

The automaker also said it will consider entering the air mobility business in collaboration with Joby and plans to flesh out further details, including whether Toyota will mass produce such aircraft.

A number of leading and start-up firms are engaged in increasingly intense competition to develop flying vehicles. SkyDrive Inc., a company in Tokyo founded by young, former Toyota engineers, announced the start of manned test flights of flying vehicles in December.