VTOL Aviation Startup Lilium Completes $35M Funding Round from Investment Firm Baillie Gifford
【Summary】Munich-based aviation startup Lilium announced on Monday a $35 million investment management partnership which adds UK-based investment management firm Baillie Gifford as a new investor. The partnership extends Lilium's current funding round to more than $275 million, and more than $375 million to date to fund the development of its VTOL aircraft.
One day in the future, people might summon an aircraft the same way they hail a ride on the ground. Ride-hailing giant Uber for example, developing electric vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that can pickup passengers on building "skyports" in urban areas, as part of the company's planned Uber Air aerial ridesharing service.
Breakthroughs in electric VTOL technology have given rise to a number of promising new aviation startups. In Germany, one such company is Lilium, which is developing advanced VTOL aircraft designed for commercial air mobility services, such as Uber's planned air taxi service.
Lilium announced on Monday a new investment management partnership which adds UK-based Baillie Gifford as a new investor. The partnership has invested $35 million in Lilium, extending the aviation startup's current funding round to more than $275 million, and more than $375 million to date.
Baillie Gifford is known for investing in high-impact technology companies such as Amazon, Tesla, SpaceX, Airbnb and Spotify.
"Baillie Gifford is one of the world's most influential tech investors and their commitment to Lilium represents a significant vote of confidence in both our physical product and our business case." said Christopher Delbrück, Chief Financial Officer, Lilium.
"We look forward to working closely with Baillie Gifford as we seek to bring emissions-free, regional air mobility to the market as early as 2025," Delbrück added.
Its the second big investment for Lilium in the past three months.
In March, Lilium announced it had received $240 million in funding from existing investors including Chinese company Tencent, Atomico, Freigeist and private banking company LGT Group. Tencent led the latest investment round.
The new funds will support the further development of Limium's VTOL Jet, as well as preparations for production of the Jet in Lilium's newly-completed manufacturing facilities. Lilium plans to operate a regional air mobility service within the next five years.
Lilium was named as one of Europe's most innovative companies in 2020 by Fast Company. The company was founded in 2015.
The Lilium Jet
The Lilium jet is a 5-passenger (4 passengers and a pilot) VTOL aircraft with a top speed of 186 mph and a flying range of 300 kilometers (186 miles). The aircraft is powered by 36 electric motors.
The Jet's "electric engines" as Lilium calls them, are designed to be quiet, with air ducts that dissipate noise before it leaves the engine. Since the Lilium is much quieter than a helicopter, it can be flown lower over urban areas without creating a noise disturbance for the residents below. The quiet electric engines also deliver a more comfortable experience for passengers.
The engines face downward like a rocket to enable vertical take-off, then swing to a horizontal position for flight. Once in the air, lift is provided by the Lilium Jet's wings and the electric jets are used solely for propulsion.
"While still at an early stage, we believe this technology could have profound and far-reaching benefits in a low-carbon future and we are excited to watch Lilium's progress in the years ahead," said Michael Pye, Investment Manager at Baillie Gifford.
The Lilium Jet can provide aerial transportation that's much faster than traveling by train or on the roads, yet still competitive in price. Lilium envisions connecting communities at a fraction of the cost of conventional high-speed infrastructure, with zero operating emissions.
Lilium is headquartered in Munich and currently employs more than 450 people.
The electric VTOL sector has attracted other big investments recently. In January, California-based Joby Aviation, founded in 2009, announced a $590 million round led by automaker Toyota, bringing its total raised to $720 million. Like Lilium, Joby is developing electric VTOL aircraft for air taxi services.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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