Lilium secures $90m next-stage funding to make concept a reality.
Ah, the 21st century, the long-promised age of jet packs, self-driving vehicles, and flying cars. While the recent unveiling of the iPhone X shows we’ve come a long, long way in the technology space, one of the more exciting – but much less noticed – recent announcements stands to change an even bigger consumer problem: transportation, namely the high-dollar, low efficiency, earth contaminating kind.
German startup Lilium announced it has secured the necessary funding – about $90 million worth in a series B round – to begin production of its all-electric flying jets. These five-passenger vertical takeoff mini cars can fly for approximately an hour, maybe more with the right wind behind them, and reach speeds of more than 180 miles per hour. What would you possibly want with a plane that can only fly less than 200 miles?
Taxis. More precisely, commuter shuttle service over short but significant distances, like the planned route from London to Paris. Lilium also envisions an on-demand, Uber-style summoning where patrons can call up for a ride as needed, which stands to change how commuters travel.
Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO, said in a 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 revolutionize 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.”
In the air by 2019?
But just because the concept is there, doesn’t mean the reality is available yet (much like our jet packs). Lilium first experimented with an autonomous all-electric plane, but that didn’t sit well with consumer travelers who seemed to have a pesky inability to leave the ground without a trained pilot. However, with a pilot at the helm, Lilium expects its jets to be in consumer operation as early as 2019, with the on-demand business model up and running – er, flying – within the next eight or nine years.