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Top Tesla investor Baillie Gifford invested $35 million in Lilium, a German start-up that is working on the development of flying taxis.
The concept of flying taxis received a boost from no less an investor than Baillie Gifford. Gifford who is the top external investor for Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) put in some $35 million in Lillium, a startup based in Munich Germany.
Lillium has gained attention in 2019 after test-running its five-seater air taxi which flew around before landing. It plans to start conveying people with its air taxi after its funding rounds. The company is a major player in the novel flying taxi industry and hopes fresh funding would keep it on top its game.
Extended Funding Round for Flying Taxis Project
Its Lillium Jet has the capacity for vertical take-off and landing giving it the dynamics of a helicopter. It is powered by an electric jet engine positioned in its wing region.
The company announced a $240 million funding round earlier in the year. Thanks to an extension, its valuation is now more than $1 billion. Baillie’s investment has given him less than a 5% stake in Lillium.
So far, the company has raised more than $375 million in funding from investors. Among its top investors are Atomico, LGT, Tencent and Freigeist.
The Future of Taxi
Speaking on Baillie’s investment, Lillium chief commercial officer Remo Gerber said that the investor was contacted 2 years ago regarding putting funds in the company but was not convinced it was the right time to back aerospace taxi. He stated that Baillie is now convinced that air taxi is the future trend.
Aside Lillium, there are other taxi companies striving to enter the air taxi space. Uber and Volocopter are working to enter the market. Lillium in a recent release said that its air taxi can travel 300 km in an hour with a single charge of its 36 electric jet engines.
“What’s happening in the background is 400 engineers working day and night on its designing of every single component of the aircraft.”
He said that everything has to be built from the ground up. He said that the company is thinking of every aspect of the business.
Top Tesla Investor
Only Tesla CEO Elon Musk who holds an 18.5% stake in Tesla has a greater stake in Tesla than Baillie Gifford who owns a 6.5% stake. The Scotland based Gifford also invested in Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), Airbnb, Spotify Technology SA (NYSE: SPOT) and SpaceX.
Lillium said that it plans to use an app in its jet hailing service similar to Uber when it commences its taxi flights in 2025. The flights are projected to cost an average of $70 for a six-minute journey from JFK to Manhattan.
The company speaking through its spokesperson Gerber said that it is in talks with regulators on the infrastructure needed for the take-off. He said that its ports would be ready in months.
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