I became Germany’s Lilium is the latest electric aviation startup to go public through a reverse merger with a private acquisition company, or SPAC.
Lilium is merging with Qell Acquisition, a SPAC founded by former General Motors CEO (Barry Engle).
As part of the announcement, Lilium has unveiled a new, seven-seater electric plane that it says is launching as part of its intercity flying taxi service in 2025.
The company’s prototype previously had only five seats, which means ambitions for Lilium to carry more passengers grow alongside its financial outlook.
The type of plane that Lilium is developing is called Flying carElectric powered, capable of carrying a small number of passengers, and intended for short trips within the city or at the regional level.
These types of vehicles are still in the prototype stage and have not yet been released for commercial service.
The company completed the first phase of testing the five-seat electric prototype consisting of 36 fans in October 2019, when the aircraft had reached a speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
Lilium says it is still on track to launch passenger operations in multiple locations around the world by 2025.
The new seven-seater jet has a speed of 280 kilometers per hour at an altitude of 10,000 feet and a range of 250 kilometers.
These numbers are lower than the company’s expectations for its five-seat aircraft, which Lilium said: It will have a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour and a range of 300 kilometers.
However, the company says: The aircraft marks the culmination of five years of technological development across four generations of tech offerings.
Lilium applied for certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration in 2018, which would normally take several years to complete, and the company has also applied with EASA in Europe for certification.
Several companies – including Lilium – promised revolutionary new aircraft years ago, but missed deadlines or failed to deliver on earlier promises.
Kitty Hawk, the flying car project backed by Larry Page, co-founder of Google, had to reorganize amid reports of malfunctions and battery fires.
Another startup called Zunum is fighting a bitter legal battle with its former investor, Boeing.