A startup planing to make flying taxis a reality has landed a huge new round of funding from top investors, with tech giant Tencent among them, as it readies for take off.
German firm Lilium has boosted its coffers with a $90m series B led by the Chinese firm and also including Obvious Ventures, the VC firm set up by ex-Twitter boss and co-founder Ev Williams. European VC firm Atomico, the VC firm of Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, is an existing investor and also participated in the round, which adds to the €10m series A it received last year.
The investment comes after Lilium boosted its management team last month, with hires from ride-hailing firm Gett and Airbus, and the fresh cash will fuel a new hiring spree to grow from its current 70 strong team across aeronautical engineering, physics, electric propulsion and computer science.
“This investment is a tremendously important step for Lilium as it enables us to make the five-seat jet a reality," said co-founder and chief executive Daniel Wiegard, who added that the "only limits are the laws of physics" on the "extraordinary aviation journey".
"This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionise the way we travel in and around the world’s cities. It makes Lilium one of the best funded electric aircraft projects in the world."
The startup showed that it has mastered vertical take off and landing (VTOL) technology earlier this year, demonstrating small pod like vehicle in unmanned tests.
"Lilium has already demonstrated its leadership in this new eVTOL industry and its once-in-a-generation transformative technology will have a seismic, positive impact on the world for generations to come," said Zennstrom.
"Now, with this latest investment round, Lilium has the capital and resources to speed ahead with the development of a commercially successful commuter aircraft that will transform the way we travel and help to solve some of the great challenges of our time."