German air taxi developer Lilium Air Mobility (NASDAQ: LILM) has announced plans to set up industrial capacity with the aim of making around 400 of the company’s Lilium jet flying shuttles a year.
Lilium chief executive officer Klaus Roewe confirmed the news, saying the company also plans to tap into schemes providing public research support.
As part of this plan, Lilium will seek grants to assist with the financial expenditure, with its share price plunging in recent times, having fallen more than 70% so far this year.
Grants are hard to come by as Lilium is competing in a crowded market for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, all vying to replace road trips or short hops by aircraft or helicopters.
Mr Roewe, who is a former Airbus executive, said the company is prioritising production.
“I am pushing hard (for) a production system for 400 aircraft. And if by good luck one day, we need 800 we will just duplicate it, not here (in Germany) … but where the big markets are,” he said.
Mr Roewe joined Lilium in August, leaving what he labelled the “manufacturing hell” of ramping up production of larger planes as leader of the A320-family program at Airbus.
“Let’s size it and let’s see how we have to design a production system including the whole supply chain for 400 aircraft,” he said.
No costs in outlined plans
Mr Roewe has not yet revealed associated costs for its industrial capacity efforts or where any public funding would originate from.
Aerospace firms have typically sought national and European Union programs to bolster innovation.
The company remains optimistic its rechargeable lithium batteries would meet performance and regulatory requirements, which will see it become well-supported.
Impossible to eliminate all associated risks
In February 2020 a battery fire destroyed a technology demonstrator and led to testing delays for Lilium.
Mr Roewe said the risk of a “thermal runaway” could never be eliminated but can be contained to a small number of cells and remain well within certification criteria, which is the same tiny margins for error as for commercial jets.
The company’s guidance on batteries is still unclear, as rules are yet to be aligned between different regulators, according to aerospace and eVTOL publication The Air Current.
Lilium aims to start-up a regional transport network in Florida, with a different stream of income being received from sales of its fixed-wing hover jets to companies planning cargo or passenger operations.
It hopes to allow pre-delivery payments from as early as next year.
Lilium, a Bavaria-based aerospace company was founded by Sebastian Born, Daniel Wiegand, Matthias Meiner, and Patrick Nathen in 2015.
The company develops its Lilium jet, an electrically powered personal air vehicle which is capable of eVTOL flight.