Home / SmartTech / Lilium plans to raise up to $ 500 million for its electric plane taxis – TechCrunch

Lilium plans to raise up to $ 500 million for its electric plane taxis – TechCrunch

"Flying cars" – aircraft developed for local and long-distance traffic to replace conventional private vehicles – are (at best) still years away from reality and significant barriers to safety, technology and business model still need to be overcome Will you ever hit the sky. Sources tell us that one of the more promising startups in the field, the German startup Lilium, wants to go into pole position by increasing its financial position.

Lilium has spoken with investors to raise a large round of financing, between 400 million and 500 million dollars, according to those familiar with his plans. "It's a very big round with a very big rating," a VC told TechCrunch.

It is not yet clear who will invest in this final round or what this review might look like.

Lilium already has some deep-seated investors behind it. In addition to WeChat owner and Chinese Internet giant Tencent; Atomico, founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, is considered a repeat investor. Obvious Ventures, the VC early-stage fund co-founded by Ev Williams of Twitter; LGT, the international private banking and asset management group; and e24, a fund of Christian Reber (co-founder of Wunderlist and now Pitch), have supported him among others.

Overall, Lilium has spent over $ 1

00 million on previous rounds of funding. With plans to build not only groundbreaking aircraft, but also to run them in fleets, this is far from enough to establish its service and deliver the impact that founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand hopes for.

It is not only an advantage in terms of relieving society of transit traffic, but the far greater advantage would be that anyone can use it and people can reach their destination five times faster, basically at a five-fold increase in their transit daily radius of life, "Wiegand said in 2017." This connectivity will be of tremendous benefit to society, but also to economic growth.

Tencent, Atomico and Obvious supported Lilium on his most recent $ 90 million donation. Sources tell us that Tencent is back in this last round and that the start-up has had potential new investors visiting Silicon Valley companies since at least this spring.

It seems that this last major round is ongoing. The target size implies the inclusion of big names with big funds behind them.

"I sincerely hope that you will receive the funds for the transformation of transportation," said one source.

When the round comes to an end, this would mean it is the largest fundraiser ever for flying taxis, an area of ​​great potential that has not been tested for a long time – a fact that, according to one source, could contribute to the longer term which is required for completing the oversized round.

It is a well-known secret how difficult it is to stimulate growth rounds in this area as it is such a new and untested market. "Early investment has focused on the market vision and the concept of a radically new mobility, but now investors and others are beginning to realize that this is also a regulatory game and more." This may lead to ongoing costs, "and that may be one reason why there are some Takes time. "

Add to that the ambition to design completely new transport hardware, to scale the planes and finally build a transport and taxi-like service around them – and you can start to see why the round could be very big.

Lilium, Atomico, Tencent and Obvious refused to comment on this story. We will update the post if this changes.

Up and Down

It's just over two years since Lilium and others in the same room as Volocopter began publicly discussing their visions for the future of mobility Unbelievably well-funded industry figures like Uber and established airlines and space companies such as Airbus, Boeing and others.

Lilium lifted its first round of financing in December 2016 and just a few months later Uber convened its first Elevate conference. This included discussions about the flying future of the transportation industry.

Since these initial discussions, the companies developing technologies and services to realize these plans have made significant progress.

Earlier this year, Lilium announced the first successful flight for a new five-seat electric vertical take-off and landing craft (VTOL). Others are preparing pilot projects in their first start cities. The schedule for the first full launch services is currently around the three-year limit (Note: dates are being postponed).

For Lilium and its competitors, the development of completely new aircraft is a means of solving a particular problem: roads in and between cities are too busy. and air-based electrical options may be one way to offset this situation in an environmentally friendly manner.

Many companies that build this new vehicle consider taxi services as the first or primary market entry point because – similar to full autonomous vehicles – the cost per vehicle is likely to be too high for most people to purchase for private / sole use irrespective of the security features, it would be possible to autonomously manage a complete fleet that would be required for individual users (which would be difficult to execute) in the case of flying cars.

Lilium's new vehicle claims to have a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour and a range of 300 kilometers, which would allow it to travel longer distances than its competitors. Lilium says this is partly because it was designed in the form of a small jet plane, rather than imitating the mechanics and form factor of drones or helicopters (the latter being the approach, the Volocopter, another startup from Germany, of equals has supported by Intel and Daimler, takes). Because of the fixed wing design of the aircraft, the aircraft can rely on the buoyancy remaining in the air, thereby reducing the power requirements of 2000-horsepower electric aircraft in the air. An electric car over the same distance means that the aircraft can not only connect suburbs with city centers and airports with main stations, but also offers affordable high-speed connections across entire regions, "said Lilium in one Explanation on time.

But physics is only part of the complex system of moving parts that would have to come together to get Lilium (or one of his rivals) off the ground.

On the one hand, every system has to be integrated with the existing infrastructure of air traffic control as well as local and national regulatory authorities, which deal with an increasingly dense sky. The company also set up a software engineering base in London to develop the fleet management software and mobile phone application that will connect customers to transit the jets. There are a number of hopefuls who have recognized the possibility of both aircraft as well as building technology.

Companies like Kitty Hawk, eHang, Joby and Uber all hope to play a role in offering short-haul flights as an affordable alternative to road transport. (Blade and SkyRyse, two other types of air taxi services, offer more conventional helicopters and other limited-launch vessels for well-heeled travelers ready to spend.)

Last week at San Francisco Disrupt 2019, Kitty Hawk announced be known his newest vehicle, Heaviside. It is an electric aircraft designed as a personalized vehicle that is less intrusive than a helicopter, that can go and land anywhere quickly and quietly, and is as easy to use as a push of a button, says CEO Sebastian Thrun.

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