The interest in vertical take-off and landing vehicles is continuing to surge. Hot on the heels of its high-profile hires in August, Munich-based startup Lilium has just raised $90 million in Series B funding. A year ago it raised $10 million in backing, bringing its total capital investment to a cool $100 million. Pretty good going for a company that was only officially founded in 2015.
The funders involved in this round included Tencent, international private banking and asset management group LGT, Atomico (a company founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström who were a Lilium Series A backer), and Obvious Ventures (a company co-founded by Twitter co-founder and former CEO, Ev Williams).
For Lilium, this funding round has a key impact on its next ambition — to develop a five-seater jet. Co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand stressed this in a recent statement. “This investment is a tremendously important step for Lilium as it enables us to make the five-seat jet a reality. This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionise the way we travel in and around the world’s cities.” The ultimate goal is to build ‘air taxis’ that are capable of making relatively short journeys at high speed. This will be combined with an app that will make ordering a flying cab as easy as whipping out your phone.
Team expanding to 70 persons
While some might be skeptical of the ability of an all-electric VTOL to meet the 300 km range and 300 km/h top speed that it is aiming for, the successful test flight back in April bodes well for the project, and Lilium is concentrating on bringing the best talent on board to make the dream a reality. Another key use of the funding in the round is expanding the team to 70 persons, as Wieland states. “We are continuing to recruit the very brightest and best global talent in aeronautical engineering, physics, electric propulsion and computer science to join us on this extraordinary aviation journey where the only limits are the laws of physics.”
Lilium is not the only company involved in the development of VOTLs, and there is a race on to develop this technology fully. We’ve detailed some of the rival companies in our flying car guide, but this investment does give Lilium the opportunity to push ahead of the pack. The company has indicated that it expects on-demand flights to be a reality by 2025, and this financial injection might just make that ambitious timeframe attainable.