Flying car start-up gets €10m in funding to help it get off the ground

5 Dec 2016

Illustration of the Lilium VTOL craft. Image: Lilium Aviation

German flying car start-up Lilium Aviation has received one of its largest investments to date, worth €10m, bringing it one step closer to the skies.

The flying car has always been the dream of science fiction fans who have imagined a future without traffic jams, with some impressive sights of the city below. Now the dream has gotten one step closer.

Rather than just being a pipe dream, Munich-based Lilium Aviation has won admiration – and funding – from groups such as the European Space Agency, but has now secured a major financing deal with one of Europe’s biggest investors.

According to TechCrunch, the company has received €10m in Series A funding from the VC firm Atomico, a 10-year-old firm founded by Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype.

Featured on last May, the work done by Lilium Aviation has reached the point where it expects to have its first vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft ready for sale in 2018.

Contrary to what you would think, the craft would have a very small footprint on the family home and be capable of fitting into, and taking off from, a typical back garden measuring at least 15 sq m.

Most ambitious team coming out of Europe ‘for a long time’

Once the craft manages to get itself off the ground using its powerful electric fans, its engines will swivel, allowing it to achieve speeds of up to 300kph at an altitude of nearly 10,000ft.

So far, the company has not built a fully functional Lilium aircraft, but has managed to test a number of large-scale prototypes near its headquarters in southern Germany – with promising results.

While the start-up hasn’t revealed the pricing of the VTOL craft, it is expected that it will be put firmly in the luxury vehicle category.

According to its co-founder and CEO, Daniel Wiegend, the investment has allowed the company to expand its staff of 35 specialists and product engineers.

Speaking of Atomico’s reasons for investing in Lilium Aviation, Zennström said: “What we like about it is that it’s a scalable design concept. It’s easier to start small and go bigger.”

He also added: “Daniel and his team are some of the most impressive and ambitious entrepreneurs coming out of Europe for a long time.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic