Lilium raises £90m to get flying taxi off the ground

Germany company Lilium, which is trying to develop and sell a flying taxi, has secured an additional $90m (£69m) from investors including the founders of Skype and Twitter.

The company’s two-seat prototype has already undergone extensive testing and has executed manoeuvres that include a mid-air transition from hover mode, like a drone, to wing-borne flight, like a conventional aircraft. 

The additional money will add to the $10m already raised by the company towards a total of $100m.

Lilium has said its jet, with a range of 300km on a single charge and cruising speed of 300km/h, is the only electric aircraft capable of both vertical take-off and jet-powered flight.

The prototype taxi

At those speeds, a 19km journey from Manhattan to JFK Airport would last as little as five minutes and Lilium even claims that the jet’s economy and efficiency will mean it will cost less than the same journey in a normal road taxi.

The funding group consists of Tencent, LGT, Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström and Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder Ev Williams is Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO.

The investment will be used for the development of the five-seat Lilium Jet that will fly commercially, as well as grow the company’s team to more than 70 people.

Co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand said: “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.

“It makes Lilium one of the best-funded electric aircraft projects in the world. Our backers recognise that Lilium’s innovative eVTOL technology puts us in the lead in this exciting new industry, with no other company promising the economy, speed, range and low-noise levels of the Lilium Jet.”

David Wallerstein, chief exploration officer at Tencent said: “Transportation technologies play a fundamental role in structuring our everyday lives. Lilium’s electric-powered eVTOL aircraft offers new mobility options that can benefit people around the world.

“From under-developed regions with poor road infrastructure, to the developed world with traffic congestion and sprawl, new possibilities emerge when convenient daily flight becomes an option for all of us. Lilium offers a substantial and environmentally-friendly transportation breakthrough for humanity.”

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