Flying taxi start-up Lilium raises US$90 million

Lilium, a German start-up with Silicon Valley-scale ambitions to develop a 5-passenger 'flying taxi', has raised a second, $90 million round of financing from top tech investors. The race to to make electric-powered flying a daily affair, hots up.VIDEO: REUTERS

MUNICH, GERMANY (REUTERS) -  Hovering in the skies above Munich, this airplane looks the stuff of science fiction.

Yet, German start-up Lilium says this is very much reality. Its co-founder & chief executive officer Daniel Wiegand, says: "We want to establish a new means of transportation."

Its two-seater electric powered jet is only the start of it. The company, founded by four graduates in 2015,has just raised a second US$90 million (S$121.7 million) to develop its next project.

A five-passenger "flying taxi" is capable of both vertical take-off and jet flight.

Wiegand says: "So you have an airplane that takes off vertically like a helicopter, but once it is in the air it accelerates into forward flight and flies with wing-borne lift."

The funding is led by Chinese internet giant Tencent, and a raft of other European investment firms.

The electric powered race is hotting up. Two years ago Airbus debuted its E-plane and is said to be working on testing a self-piloted flying car sometime this year.

Uber is also said to be spreading its wings - but it is Lilium which is attracting all the attention.

A manned test-flight of the five-seater is expected around 2019, with roll-out expected sometime in the next decade.