German air-taxi startup Lilium to go public via a €2.8B SPAC deal; unveils new 7-seater electric jet


Image credit: Lilium

Known for its fully electric, 5-seater aircraft, Munich-based aviation startup Lilium is all set to go public through a merger with a special acquisition company, Qell Acquisition Corp. The newly formed company will list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “LILM”.

Qell Acquisition Corp., which is led by Barry Engle (former president of General Motors North America), provides Lilium with access to capital and industry experience as well as supports the planned launch of commercial operations in 2024.

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Transaction overview

Lilium’s SPAC deal values the combined company at an approx $3.3B (approx €2.80B) pro forma equity value at the $10 (approx €8.52) per share PIPE price. 

After the completion of the deal, Lilium is expected to receive about $830M (approx €706.84M). The amount comprises $450M (approx €383.2M) from a fully committed common stock PIPE offering and $380M (approx €323.6M) cash held in trust. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, at which point the company will start trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

The PIPE includes participation from financial investors including Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Tencent, Ferrovial, LGT & its direct impact investing arm Lightrock, Palantir, Atomico, FII Institute, and private funds affiliated with PIMCO.

Barry Engle, an executive vice president and president of GM’s North America division, and former Airbus CEO – Tom Enders will join the board of the newly formed company.

Lilium’s existing shareholders will roll 100 per cent of their shares into the combined company. In addition, upon completion of the transaction, Daniel Wiegand will hold 3:1 super-voting shares. Super-voting shares give key company insiders greater control over the company’s voting rights, its board, and corporate actions.

Funds to be used

The raised capital from the deal will be used to fund the commercial launch of Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet, which is planned for 2024. This includes the finalisation of serial production facilities in Germany, the launch of serial production aircraft, and the completion of type certification.

Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet | Image credit: Lilium

Lilium’s new 7-seater jet

Besides going public, the company has also revealed its new 7-Seater electric vertical take-off and landing jet called Lilium 7-Seater Jet. Previously, the company’s prototype was said to have only five seats. 

The company believes that its new jet can revolutionise regional travel, saving people hours not minutes.

Using its 7-Seater Lilium Jet, Lilium’s regional shuttle service will enable sustainable, high-speed transportation. The Jet is capable of quiet vertical take-off to allow access to more landing sites, and the opportunity to build higher network density, avoiding the need for expensive ground infrastructure.

Using Lilium’s proprietary Ducted Electric Vectored Thrust (“DEVT”) technology, the 7-Seater Lilium Jet is projected to deliver the best unit economics, with market-leading capacity, low noise, and high performance.

Speaking on the development, Daniel Wiegand, co-founder & CEO of Lilium, says, “We’re incredibly excited to reveal the development of our 7-Seater Lilium Jet and announce the next stage of our growth. This is a validation of all the hard work over the last five years from our talented team and our world-class partners and investors.”

He further adds, “Our vision is to create a sustainable and accessible mode of high-speed travel and bring this to every community. Transport infrastructure is broken. It is costly in personal time, space consumption, and carbon emissions. We are pursuing our unique electric jet technology because it is the key to higher-capacity aircraft, with a lower cost per seat mile while delivering low noise and low emissions.”

Production and commercialisation

Lilium has put in place a rigorous aerospace program across all certification, design, testing, and production phases, with maturity gates at every stage of the aircraft’s development cycle. It has over 400 engineers and a combined 4,000 years of aerospace experience.

The company claims that its leadership team was previously responsible for developing and delivering some of the most successful and complex aircraft in aviation history, including the Airbus A320, A350 and A380, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gulfstream G650 and Harrier VTOL.

The 7-Seater Lilium aircraft will have 30 times fewer components than a commercial airliner and is designed for ease of manufacturability and scalability. The company applies automotive-style design for manufacturing methods and is designing for fully automated high-quality production of its engines, actuators, and batteries.

Besides, Lilium is also partnering with suppliers whose technology and services have been certified in aerospace around the world for decades. These include: 

  • Toray Industries – providing the carbon composites for the aircraft’s primary structures 
  • Aciturri – manufacturing the fuselage and wing systems; and 
  • Lufthansa Aviation Training – training Lilium’s pilots

To date, Lilium has secured approx $200M (approx €170.3M) of commitments from infrastructure partners, including Ferrovial and Tavistock Development Company. Up to 14 vertiports are already planned in Florida. 

The company is also in advanced discussions with key infrastructure partners for 10 vertiports to build a network across Europe.

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