The demonstration impressed people enough to enable them to secure $90 million in funding to bring the aircraft to market.
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The series B funding round was led by Tencent – adding to their now many electric vehicle-related investments, including a 5% stake in Tesla.
David Wallerstein, Chief Exploration Officer at Tencent, commented on the announcement:
“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.”
LGT and existing investor Atomico also participated in the round, along with Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder Ev Williams is Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO.
Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO of Lilium, 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.
The company claims that the Lilium Jet can achieve a range of “more than 300 km (186 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 300 km/h.(186 mph)”
When they made their maiden flight earlier this year, the German startup had a team of over 40 engineers working on bringing the aircraft to production – now they have grown to over 70 employees. They recently announced that they hired executives from Gett, Airbus and Tesla.
The new investment will help them grow the team even further.
This funding round is the latest example of a trend that we identified last year: ‘Electric VTOL aircraft are coming: money is flowing to several startups developing different designs‘.
There are still a lot of obstacles on the road to the deployment of eVTOL aircraft. They will need to be extremely safe with several redundant systems in order for people to be somewhat comfortable with them flying around.
Furthermore, air traffic laws and infrastructure will need to adapt since those aircraft mainly aim to create air taxi services in cities.
Passenger Drone unveiled a new two-seater electric VTOL manned aircraft last week with the same goal.
It still remains unknown if any of those will make it to production, but it is clear that with the amount of money going into the technology, we will see it evolve significantly in the coming years.