Lilium Becomes Latest eVTOL Company to Go Public

Company will receive less money than expected as part of SPAC merger.

Air taxi developer Lilium officially launched on the Nasdaq stock exchange Wednesday, days after shareholders of special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Qell Acquisition Group approved a merger on September 10.

The Germany-based company is now trading as “LILM.”

It’s the latest development in the growing eVTOL industry, aimed at providing convenient, fast, and environmentally friendly transportation between regional cities and over traffic-congested urban areas.

In announcing the close of the deal Tuesday, Lilium CEO and co-founder Daniel Wiegand celebrated the next step.

“In 2015, with the clear vision that the decarbonization of aviation is inevitable, we set out to build a team and product that would radically transform the way the world moves,” he said. “Six years and five generations of technology demonstrator aircraft later, we’re closer than ever to this goal.

“Today’s milestone will bring us even closer to launching our service in 2024 and making sustainable, high-speed regional air travel a reality to communities around the world.”

The company initially expected to receive $830 million but now will get about $584 million in proceeds after 65 percent of Qell shareholders chose to redeem their shares. The transaction values the company at $3.3 billion pro forma equity value.

Qell, which targets markets across next-generation mobility, transportation, and sustainable industrial technology, was founded last year by CEO and Director Barry Engle along with Director Sam Gabbita. It’s based in Redwood City, California.

The merger with Qell makes Lilium the third developer in the vertical takeoff and landing industry to go public in recent weeks.

On Aug. 11, eVTOL competitor Joby listed on the NYSE after a SPAC deal with Reinvent Technology Partners. And Archer Aviation is expected to go public Friday after shareholders approved a merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. SPACs have gained popularity as a way for companies to secure funding by allowing them to offer stocks without going through the traditional, and cumbersome, process of becoming a publicly traded company.

Details About the Aircraft

Lilium was founded in 2015 by four graduates of the Technical University of Munich who were seeking to design a more efficient ducted-fan powered air taxi than competing airframes, eliminating the now-traditional use of quad-copter technology.

Since its initial launch, the company has gone through several prototypes. A five-seater demonstrator reportedly was lost in a ground fire in early 2020. Non-crewed flight tests resumed in July, according to a recent Reddit ”Ask Me Anything.”

A newer seven-seater iteration that can carry a pilot and up to six passengers is expected to begin crewed testing at the end of 2022, officials said.

In 2018, Lilium applied concurrently for EASA and FAA type certification for the seven-seater.

Watch a test flight of Lilium’s eVTOL demonstrator

The aircraft’s motors are designed to rotate to vector thrust for vertical flight or horizontal flight. Multiple electric motors are embedded in rows on the forward canard and trailing edges of the 46-foot main wing, for a total of 36 ducted fans. The seven-seater aircraft is expected to measure 28 feet long. It’s designed to cruise at 10,000 feet at about 150 knots (175 mph) with a range of about 130 nm (150 miles), allowing for quick hops.

The company is aiming for a commercial launch in 2024, possibly in Florida, including a handful of vertiports. Lilium officials have said they’re also looking at potential U.S. markets in California, Texas, and the Northeast. Lilium officials have said they’re also considering the possibility of a cargo variant of the aircraft.


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