Lilium Joins Forces With Porsche’s Battery Maker for Flying Taxi
(Bloomberg) -- Flying taxi startup Lilium GmbH has partnered with another German company, battery specialist Customcells GmbH, to power its planned seven-seater e-jet.
Customcells, which has a joint venture with sports-car maker Porsche AG, will make lithium-ion batteries for the Lilium craft targeted for launch in 2024. The power units will be made in Germany, as companies across Europe seek to reduce their reliance on Chinese battery technology.
Firming up a supplier is a crucial step for Lilium and its ambitious timeline to begin passenger operations within three years. The two companies have worked together for more than a year to develop the technology, said Chief Executive Officer Daniel Wiegand, adding that there is potential to scale it up in the future.
“For the moment, the contract is for the seven-seater jet,” Wiegand said. “We are excited to partner long-term with Customcells and use that very same technology at some point for several products.”
Lilium’s propulsion method is unique among flying taxi companies, which tend to use propeller set-ups that resemble the ones on drones. The company, based near Munich, modeled its approach after commercial jet engines, with electric motors in the wing flaps providing the thrust and ducted fans used to minimize noise.
Lilium plans to take passengers on short hops between cities, and said in March that it wants to later build a 16-seat model to move passengers across congested cities at rates competitive with high-speed rail. It would be among the first flying taxi companies to be certified in Europe if it hit its launch target.
Lilium is set to go public through a reverse merger by Qell Acquisition Corp. but recent financial disclosures have prompted concern about its finances after it revealed that without the offering it would run out of money. Wiegand said that while the company is reliant on new funding, the disclosure was triggered by a switch to U.S. accounting standards from German rules.
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