The start-up company has recently been hit hard by the wind: one of the two prototypes of the electrically powered air taxi was destroyed by fire. And an expert – a professor of aeronautical engineering – had challenged the technical feasibility of the Lillium jet in a magazine article; in particular, he had doubted the stated range of 300 km and the cost calculation for the device with its 36 electric motors.
In an interview with German business newspaper Handelsblatt, company founder Daniel Wiegand announced the conclusion of a further round of financing – the company has received $240 million from various investors. One of the investors is the Chinese internet company Tencent. At the same time Wiegand confirmed his schedule: The aircraft is to go into series production by 2025. Lilium wants to provide the platform for locally emission-free regional air services.
On this occasion Wiegand addressed the criticism of his technical concept. The critic had calculated that the batteries would have to be exhausted after a very short time at the weight indicated; in no case were the values for range (300 km) and speed (300 km/h) indicated by Lilium realistic or even attainable. Wiegand admitted that for a vertical take-off (as envisaged for the Lilium aircraft) five times the installed thrust compared to a conventional aircraft would be necessary. But the company had managed to reduce the weight of the aircraft accordingly. “It already has the power density for important components that we need for the series-production aircraft,” said Wiegand. Although the targeted range has not yet been achieved, Lilium currently also uses standard batteries – “anyone can order them from Amazon,” said Wiegand. Until the planned series production, however, progress in battery technology will make the targeted range possible.