Lilium, the German start-up attempting to revolutionize transportation via a 5-passenger “flying taxi,” has reportedly raised around $90 million its recent round of funding. With only $11.4 million raised in funding last year, Lilium has become one of Europe’s most valuable start-ups in the aircraft industry.
The round was led by Chinese internet giant Tencent with the addition of LGT in Europe, Atomico, a European VC firm, and Obvious Ventures. This past April, Lilium announced it was in the process of creating a five-seat flying mobile that would take the aircraft industry by storm. It has had successful test flights of a two-seat jet capable of hovering above ground, which is an impressive feat that most competitors have yet to accomplish.
According to a Lilium executive, the flying taxi is powered by electricity and travels about five to six times the distance of drones. The executive also claims that a 12-mile trip from Manhattan to JFK Airport would only take about 5 minutes in comparison to motor vehicles or other transportation methods. Remo Gerber, the former European managing director of online taxi firm Gett, claims the concept “goes far beyond what you typically see from German start-ups.” Gerber was also promoted to Lilium’s chief commercial officer this past month.
Lilium’s revolutionary flying mobile compares with other companies like Tesla and is a change from the continent’s usual presence in e-commerce apps which usually dominate the start-up scene in Berlin. With the funding, the company plans to increase the number of employees so that they will grow in size and also in productivity.
Currently at 70 employees, Lilium plans to “scale up hiring of aeronautical engineers, physicists, computer science and electric propulsion experts rapidly.” They also plan to expand upon their current project and continue in the next development stages of its flying aircraft with an effort to buy time to meet regulatory approvals.
Lilium, which was founded in 2015 by four graduates from the Technical University of Munich, is aiming to develop a manned test flight of its five-seat aircraft around 2019, and to roll-out “flying taxi” commuter services, subject to regulatory approvals, some time in the next decade.
Lilium’s project has put the company on the radar, and it will be interesting to see the final product of their flying taxi project.