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Tencent invests in German flying taxi
Bloomberg | 2017/9/8

PARIS - With a promise to haul passengers from downtown Manhattan to JFK airport in just five minutes, flying jet taxi designer Lilium raised $90 million (587 million yuan) from a group of investors that includes Tencent Holdings.
 
The German startup wants to use the money to build a prototype that can seat five people and fly as fast as 300 kph (186 mph), after its two-seat test model had a successful first flight in April, Chief Commercial Officer Remo Gerber said in an interview. 

Other backers include LGT Group of Lichtenstein, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams's Obvious Ventures and U.K. investor Atomico, bringing the company's total capital raised to more than $100 million. 

"We think our technology could be rapidly adopted in urban areas or between cities. All you need is a landing pad," Gerber said. "We're looking for partners who can operate it, at a cost similar to trains or taxis for passengers." 

Gerber estimates it will be several years until Lilium's jet is ready for mass production. 

Flying cars have attracted investments from Daimler in German startup Volocopter, while Airbus is backing an automated flight project called Vahana. Still at prototype phase, these technologies will need some regulatory clearance before commercial deployment happens. 

Lilium has backing from the European Space Agency. It joins companies such as Italdesign and Seabubbles, a French startup that has designed a flying water taxi, which are exploring solutions to unclog city traffic and make it easier for people to commute. 

Founded in 2015 by a quartet of academics from the Technical University of Munich, Lilium has hired senior staff from Gett Taxis, Airbus and Tesla. The April test flight program included a midair transition from hover mode to wing-borne forward flight.
 
Gerber said, "What you're going to see at this point is a lot of concepts based on different technologies -- drones, planes, others."

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