German startup Lilium which is planning to develop a five-seater 'flying taxi' has announced that it has raised $90m following a round of financing which was led by Chinese internet colossus Tencent. It's the second round of financing the company has embarked upon, and its latest funding venture has now subsequently made it one of the best-funded electric aircraft projects on the market.
The German startup is now recognized as one of Europe's hottest new companies as it looks to create a new portfolio of aircraft that is capable of performing both vertical take-off and electric powered jet flights. Lilium confirmed via a press release this week that the funding initiative had been spearheaded Tencent.
However, the financing round also included firms such as LGT, which is Europe's largest family-owned investment firm that is based in Liechtenstein. European venture firm Atomico and Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder also co-founded social networking giant Twitter.
RTA in Dubai has announced that it will deploy a driverless flying taxi to its skies in July - following a series of successful trials after months of rigorous testing. Now Lilium's ambition to build a five-seater 'flying taxi' represents a new growing trend amongst the aviation and technology sector which is to develop and deploy new types of electrically-powered vehicles now ducked 'flying taxis'.
Back in April, the German startup disclosed that it was currently in the process of developing the innovative five-seater 'flying taxis' after conducting successful test flights on a full-size, two-seat jet capable of a mid-air transition from hover model similar to drones wing borne flights like conventional aircraft.
However, a spokesman for Lilium claimed that its electrically-powered product allows commuter aircraft to travel six times the distance of drones. He estimated that a 12-mile trip from JFK to Manhattan would take just five minutes with its 'flying taxi'.
The company has also disclosed that it plans to invest the money it has generated following the financing round to expand its workforce in order to help accelerate the next stage of the development process on its electric jet. That would also buy it time as it attempts to meet the stringent regulations that have been established for such new innovative inventions.
Lilium was founded in 2015 by four graduates from the Technical University of Munich, and it now has around 70 employees. It will now look to rapidly scale up its workforce as it plans to head-hunt aeronautical engineers, physicists, computer science personnel and electric propulsion experts.
The German startup has set a 2019 launch date for the inaugural manned flight of its five-seater flying taxi, and then aims to roll out the commuter services of its 'flying taxi' subject to regulatory approvals in the next decade.