Hopping into a taxi (or an Uber) is old news. It seems that the transportation industry wants to make air taxis the next big thing. There are several startups and established companies working on the concept, but it remains anyone’s game.
Despite the fact that mass transportation has temporarily slowed down because of the COVID-19 outbreak, one electric aviation startup is making waves. Lilium has just completed a new funding round worth $240 million to help develop its flying taxi.
Look to the Skies
It seems that the aviation world is following the current trajectory of the automotive industry—albeit at a distance. As more carmakers adopt the electric vehicle model, aviation startups are beginning to take note as well.
Lilium is a Munich-based startup with ambitions of creating an air taxi service with its very own jet. Aptly named the Lilium Jet, the startup’s vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft is its vision of the future.
The aircraft can hit speeds up to 100 km/h and can land in any open area—just like a helicopter. Lilium plans to use its latest funding round to continue developing its jet and to prepare for mass production. The five-seat craft will serve as the exclusive vehicle of Lilium’s planned air taxi service.
It’s worth noting that the startup recently completed construction on the manufacturing facilities that it needs to start producing its jet. Moreover, the craft just passed the first stage of flight testing. These things, in conjunction with its newest funding round, have Lilium eying 2025 as the start date for a regional air taxi service.
A Lilium spokesperson said, “We’re working to deliver a brand new form of emissions-free transport. Doing something like that takes significant time and investment, but the outcome is a valuable business and a chance to have a genuinely positive impact on the way we travel.”
Lilium’s latest funding round brings its total amount raised to date upwards of $340 million. That’s an impressive figure for a startup that hasn’t even started testing its main product or business model with consumers. It also signifies the massive amount of interest in future of the air taxi industry.
The round was led by Tencent, but also included participation from a number of previous backers. Most notable are Atomico, Freigeist, and LGT. Although Lilium hasn’t disclosed its current valuation, PitchBook estimated that the startup was worth about $470 million last year.
The new funding will be a welcome addition for Lilium as it seeks to continue pursuing its goal of creating a realistic air taxi service.
Lilium CFO Christopher Delbrück says, “This additional funding underscores the deep confidence our investors have in both our physical product and our business case. We’re very pleased to be able to complete an internal round with them, having benefited greatly from their support and guidance over the past few years.”
He goes on to add, “The new funds will enable us to take big strides towards our shared goal of delivering regional air mobility as early as 2025.”