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Flying taxi startup Lilium gets cash boost from SpaceX backer

Compact, quiet, and emissions-free VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft are gaining increasing attention in the aviation world, with a slew of companies battling it out to become the first to launch a viable air taxi service for urban transportation.

One outfit that’s causing a stir in the sector is Lilium. The Munich, Germany-based company has just secured another $35 million in funding to add to the $240 million it picked up in March 2020 to help it further develop its five-seat, fully electric VTOL aircraft, called Lilium Jet.

Lilium Jet

The latest cash injection comes from Baillie Gifford, a 112-year-old Scottish investment firm that in the past has also backed SpaceX, Tesla, Spotify, and Airbnb, among others.

Lilium, which started life in 2015, says it’s aiming to build a system offering trips that would be considerably faster than rail or road, yet competitive in price.

“We plan to start commercial service in 2025, in two or three regions around the world,” Lilium told Digital Trends. It added that to use the service, “customers would book a shuttle flight much like they would book a ride-hailing taxi ride today.”

Commenting on the new investment, Christopher Delbrück, Lilium’s chief financial officer, said, “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.”

Delbrück added that the funds would help the company “to weather the challenging economic landscape” and help it stay fully focused on its mission.

Michael Pye, Baillie Gifford’s investment manager, said his company was “delighted” to support Lilium’s ambition of developing a new mode of transport, adding, “While still at an early stage, we believe this technology could have profound and far-reaching benefits in a low-carbon future.”

Lilium Jet demonstrator aircraft. Lilium

Lilium’s demonstrator aircraft (above) first flew in 2019. The final design will have a range of 186 miles (300 km), allowing it to connect not only urban and suburban areas, but also cities.

The aircraft has a striking design, incorporating 36 all-electric engines that stay quiet thanks to their ducted design that captures and dissipates noise before it leaves the engine.

“From panoramic views to a spacious cabin and gull-wing doors, the Lilium Jet will deliver a flying experience like no other,” the company teases on its website.

As we said at the top, Lilium isn’t the only player in the game. Check out the amazing designs from some of its competitors.

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Trevor Mogg
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