Lilium, a flying taxi company, has completed its B series of funding raising a total of $90 million. The Germany-based startup has set a target of 2019 to launch its first functional crewed jet, while the on-demand feature is expected to go live in 2025.
Still a long way to go on the Lilium flying taxi
Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Weigand told TechCrunch, “The founding mission of the company was to enable everyone to use this kind of transportation system in their everyday lives.”
Lilium wants to be a leading company making it possible for every individual to ride in a jet instead of a car, reaching their destination five times faster. Weigand stated that there is going to be an app one day that people can use to book their airplane ride as a service. Weigand, however, hints that flying cars are not in the picture anytime soon. He explained that the Lilium flying taxi will follow the timeline that any new aircraft of its size takes.
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Although the start-up has come a long way from where it started since completing its first successful test flight for a two-seater and remote-operated model in April, a lot still needs to be done. The test flight of the Lilium flying taxi lasted for few minutes.
According to Remo Gerber, a former executive from ride-hailing firm Gett who has now joined Lilium. The final product will reportedly be able to fly for a full hour on a single charge at a speed of up to 300 kilometers per hour. This would make it possible to travel between Manhattan and JFK Airport in only five minutes.
“That is all on current battery technology,” Gerber told Fortune. “We obviously believe batteries are going to get better.”
Pilot-controlled jets initially
Weigand stated that Lilium attracted investors after their first successful flight.
“When we had the Series A investment, we had an idea and a smart founding team and a promise, basically,” said the Lilium CEO. “However, after showcasing the prototype, we have kind of established that somewhere in future, this concept can take a form of product and service,” the CEO said.
In series A funding last year, Lilium raised a total of $10 million.
The investors who put their trust and money into the start-up via its B series funding include Tencent, international private banking and asset management group LGT, previous investor Atomico (the VC firm created by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström), and Obvious Ventures (the VC firm founded by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Evan Williams).
The Lilium flying taxi will be an app-based service, and there will be a human pilot at first to comply with regulations. Gerber, however, thinks that in the long run, the company will want to get a free hand with small aircraft and helicopters which are allowed to service customers in the city.
Lilium might want to take the pulse of potential customers before coming up with pilot-less jet initially. According to a previous study from UBS, more than half of those surveyed were not willing to fly in a pilotless plane, even if it costs less than one with a pilot in control.