German eVTOL pioneer Lilium raises another $250m in a bid to survive
Lilium in Germany has raised another $250m for its electric vertical take off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), bringing its total fundraising to just under $1.2bn.
The eVTOL the company is developing is more sophisticated than the air taxi designs currently being developed in Europe with a five seater, rotating wing design. The platform saw its first test flight back in 2019 and 40% scale model is currently being tested in a European wind tunnel.
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The development has involved new silicon battery designs in partnership with Customcells in Germany as well as new electric motors from Schuebeler Technologies. The approval process is also extremely challenging for this new entirely class of aircraft.
The company listed its shares on the Nasdaq share market back in March 2021 and according to a recent US filing, Chinese backer Tencent pre-funded the purchase of $100 million in shares and committed to pre-fund the purchase of an additional $75 million in shares, contingent upon Lilium being able to secure a matching $75 million.
The filing states that the company has $157.5 million of cash on hand and Lilium says the funding will cover most of the estimated capital required to achieve first manned flight of the type-conforming aircraft in the second half of 2024.
Lilium expects to benefit from the contribution of substantial pre-delivery payments (PDPs) which will help fund its subsequent capital requirements.
“The capital raise marks an important development in our ongoing mission to revolutionize the aviation industry. With this financing, we are excited to continue our development program at full pace. We remain in multiple constructive discussions with existing and potential new investors. We hope to announce further updates soon,” said CEO Klaus Roewe.
The company is currently testing a 40% scale model of the complete aircraft design at the German-Dutch Wind Tunnels (DNW) facility in Marknesse, Netherlands. This includes working engines and flap actuators, where each flap is remotely actuated and equipped with electric ducted fans built to scale by Schuebeler.
The wind tunnel tests will provide comprehensive aerodynamic data to validate its flight physics and performance predictions. The dataset will cover the complete aircraft flight envelope from hover to cruise.
The scale model was built according to the latest Lilium Jet design by TGR-E, a provider of high-end manufacturing solutions, supported by aerospace design specialists IBK-Innovation.
The DNW wind tunnels have been used in the development of all Airbus aircraft, from the A300 to the A380 and A400M, as well as the Embraer E-jet family and numerous helicopters.
“This is an important step in our aircraft program and it is very exciting to see this large-scale Lilium Jet model with working engines and wing flaps,” said Alastair McIntosh, Chief Technology Officer at Lilium. “We’ve been enormously impressed by the cooperation with DNW so far and the support provided by TGR-E and IBK. We look forward to generating vast amounts of aerodynamics data on the aircraft and building further confidence in our design tools as we prepare for the start of final assembly later this year.”