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Electric jet startup Lilium to use carbon fibre from Toray

Lilium, a German aerospace startup developing a small vertical-lift electric jet aircraft, and Toray Industries, a manufacturer of carbon fiber, have signed an agreement for the supply of “higher performance” carbon fiber composite.

The Lilium Jet is a five-seater, emissions-free aircraft that can take off and land vertically and is designed to provide high-speed regional connections of up to 300km in under 60 minutes.

The aircraft’s primary structures, such as the fuselage, wings and flaps will all be made from carbon fiber.

Toray Industries is recognized as a global leader in aerospace materials and their carbon fiber products played a critical role in the success of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO at Lilium, says: “Securing this supply agreement marks an important step in the maturity of our supply chain and in our preparations for serial production.”

In the first instance, the material will be supplied directly to Lilium for use in the production of further technology demonstrators, before being delivered directly to suppliers who will manufacture parts for prototypes and serial production.

The agreement also paves the way for further collaboration between the two companies, both in the provision of other high-performance materials and the establishment of research and development partnerships.

Yves Yemsi, chief program officer, Lilium says: “Toray’s wealth of experience in the world of high-performance carbon fibers and composite materials speaks for itself and we’re proud to be counted amongst the aerospace companies they supply.

“We look forward to developing a close collaboration with Toray in the years ahead and to building a resilient and agile supply chain for the Lilium Jet, together with other well-established and reliable aerospace suppliers across different fields of technology.”

Minoru Yoshinaga, Toray senior vice president, general manager of Torayca and composites division, says: “We are pleased to be selected as a partner by Lilium, one of the most promising companies in this emerging market sector.

“We look forward to working with Lilium to solve the environmental issues in urban areas, contributing by the power of materials.”

Lilium’s vision of air mobility encompasses a network of vertiports spread across an entire region, providing high-speed, point-to-point routes.

Each additional vertiport added to the network would connect directly with all others within a 300 km radius, leading to a fast scaling network that can provide regional connectivity at a fraction of the cost of traditional infrastructure such as high-speed trains.

Lilium expects commercial operations to commence in 2025.

News of the partnership comes just weeks after Lilium confirmed it had welcomed Baillie Gifford, Tesla’s largest shareholder, as a new investor, bringing total funds raised to date to over $375 million.

The fresh funding will support the further development of the Lilium Jet as well as underpinning preparations for serial production in Lilium’s newly completed manufacturing facilities. It places Lilium amongst the top 20 most valuable startups in Germany.

A December 2018 study from Morgan Stanley suggested that the rapidly growing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) market could be worth as much as $1.5 trillion by 2040, with $851 billion of that coming from the passenger market which Lilium targets.

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