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Nigerian PE firm invests in World’s first flying electric jet car company

Nigerian PE firm invests in World’s first flying electric jet car company

Platform Capital, a Nigerian-based private equity firm, has on Thursday announced an investment in Leo Flight Corp, the New York-based maker of the world’s first flying electric jet car.

The company’s Leo Coupe is an all-electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) flying car that can travel 300 miles at 250mph on a single charge with a capacity of three passengers and conveniently fits in a 2-car garage.

Leo Flight Corp started in 2020 as a joint venture between Pete Bitar’s company, Electric Jet Aircraft, and Carlos Salaff’s company, SALAFF Automotive. The two co-founders later decided to design and build eVTOL flying cars. They both have extensive experience in mobility design, engineering and production.

“We are excited to partner with Platform Capital, a company that sees the opportunity to utilize LEO Flight’s technology to transform human mobility in Africa and beyond,” said the co-founders.

Leo Flight Corp is also developing VertiStop, a small, modular landing pad that doubles as a charging system to be proliferated easily and broadly, creating near-instant infrastructure in urban, suburban and rural areas, in parallel with its Leo Coupe flying cars.

The investment by Platform Capital is the first of its kind by any Nigerian private equity firm and could be an indication of a growing risk appetite.

Read also: Electric car sales double in 2021 in new threat to Nigeria’s oil revenues

In a statement, Platform Capital says it is building on the growth in technology Africa is already experiencing as a result of the introduction of GSM mobile phones and broadband adoption. The technology was responsible for the growth of fixed lines from 400,000 as at the end of 2000 to almost 200 million mobile phone connections as at the end of 2021.

“This phenomenon birthed new segments across tech and tech-enabled services, has driven increase in trade and commerce, improved financial inclusion levels, provided employment and formalised the informal sector to the gig economy, increased easier access to health care, facilitated interconnectivity with the global community,” Platform Capital noted.

The PE is not only looking to make money from commercialisation of flying electric vehicles around, it sees them as part of the solutions to the mobility challenges Africa face.

Africa’s urban mobility problem, it says, is an opportunity that fixing can potentially have the same level of impact on the lives of people on the continent. The PE says fixing how people and goods move from point to point, finding alternative ways to deliver well-functioning transportation systems en masse over the long term is critical to sustained prosperity and wellbeing as a people.

As part of the investment, Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital will be joining the advisory board of LEO Flight Corp to provide support and guidance to Pete, Carlos and the rest of the team in achieving their ambition of revolutionizing mobility for the world’s urban cities.

“The work Leo Flight Corp. is doing in changing how people and things move is simply mind-blowing, and we are proud to embark on this journey with the team,” Akindele said. “Electric flying vehicles will improve air quality in cities and deliver more convenient means of transportation. Electric flying cars will produce zero carbon emissions when flying, thereby reducing air pollution considerably and by extension, create strong environmental impact. As with our other investments globally, we will seek to work with the team to explore, research, understand and design how Leo Flight Corp.’s technology can be transferred and applied in Africa, as the continent is also facing rapid urbanisation in its major cities.”