#Flying taxi startup Lilium scores investment from top Tesla backer

#Flying taxi startup Lilium scores investment from top Tesla backer

June 9, 2020 | 3:22pm

A top Tesla investor is betting that the next big thing is flying taxis.

Ballie Gifford, a firm whose past investments include SpaceX and Amazon in addition to Elon Musk’s electric automaker, this week put $35 million into German aviation company Lilium, which is developing an aircraft it says will make intra-city travel as easy as hailing an Uber to go downtown.

With Ballie Gifford’s investment, Lilium has raised more than $375 million, and is valued at over $1 billion. The Munich-based company hopes to be live in “multiple cities” around the world by 2025, chief commercial officer Remo Gerber told The Post. It’s angling to break into the Big Apple eventually, although no timeline has been set, he said.

Lilium’s aircraft can take off and land vertically, making it as versatile as a helicopter but quieter and cheaper to operate thanks to its electric engines. The company claims that its aircraft will be able to whisk passengers from New York to Boston in just an hour on a single charge.

“While still at an early stage, we believe this technology could have profound and far-reaching benefits in a low-carbon future,” Ballie Gifford investment manager Michael Pye said in a statement.

Gerber said the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t had a large impact on Lilium, as the company has not yet begun large-scale manufacturing.

“A lot of [our work] is desktop-based,” he said. “We also have a team that is very used to remote work from the beginning, so we’ve been able to adapt quite quickly.”

In fact, Lilium might be able to eventually take advantage of the fallout of the pandemic, which has seen some companies become more open to remote work.

“It might open up opportunities to potentially have a larger place or lower rent and opens up completely new opportunities for people to live in places that today might not be really well connected,” Gerber said.


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