Uber, Google and Airbus have reportedly been working on flying cars, but the Munich startup Lilium has beat them to it. The company announced Thursday it has tested its all-electric flying car, Lilium Jet, in Germany.
Lilium, founded in 2015, said it has completed a series of “rigorous flight tests” on its flying car, “the first zero-emission electric plane capable of Vertical Take-Off and Landing [VTOL].”
The two-seater prototype, controlled remotely by a pilot, performed a successful in-flight transition from hover mode to wing-borne forward flight, Lilium said.
“Seeing the Lilium Jet take to the sky and performing sophisticated maneuvers with apparent ease is testament to the skill and perseverance of our amazing team,” Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand said in a statement. “We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point.”
The startup is now developing a five-seat model of the Jet for on-demand air taxi and ride-hailing services.
“The combination of energy efficient flight and minimal ground infrastructure will enable passenger flights with comparable pricing to normal car taxis over the same distance,” Lilium said in a press release.
A trip with Lilium’s flying car will be at least five times faster than taking a car, the company said. A flight from Manhattan to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport would take about five minutes with Lilium Jet, compared to nearly an hour by car. The Jet can travel more than 300 kilometers (186.4 miles), with a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour.
The lightweight flying-car is powered by 36 electric jet engines mounted on its wings via 12 moveable flaps. The Jet is 100 percent electrically powered, which means it won’t pollute the air and could be a solution to reduce pollution emitted by gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in towns and cities. The Jet doesn’t need much space to take off either, since it launches vertically, and will make less noise than a motorcycle.
Lilium released a video showing the vertical take off of the flying car, which then accelerates forward.
A price tag for the Jet has not yet been revealed.