Lilium engages ABB for MW aircraft charging system
ABB has been hired to provide a megawatt fast-charging network for electric aerial taxi manufacturer Lilium. The ABB equipment will enable charging with direct current with a power of up to 1,000 kW and can also be used for heavy electric trucks and buses.
Under the agreement, ABB will provide the charging infrastructure for its regional air transport networks. The commercial launch of these networks is planned for 2024 – initially in Florida, Germany and Brazil. Under the agreement, ABB will develop, test and supply the MW fast-charging infrastructure to Lilium.
The chargers will be designed to fully charge Lilium’s eVTOL batteries in about 30 minutes and 80 per cent in 15 minutes. With these short charging times, around 20 to 25 flights per aircraft per day should be possible in Lilium’s respective “Vertiport” network. The initial range of the seven-seat Lilium jet is expected to be 250 kilometres, with a cruising speed of 175 km/h, according to the manufacturer.
According to the Munich-based company, the regional air transport networks will always be made up of a series of vertiports, each with several parking spaces and charging points with a capacity of up to 1,000 kW. The latter will also be able to be used for heavy electric vehicles such as trucks and buses. In developing the MW charging system, ABB and Lilium plan to follow relevant standards that support interoperability to follow the pending results of the CharIN Megawatt Charging System Task Force.
“Combining Lilium’s mission to grow sustainable aviation with ABB’s global market expertise and leadership in e-mobility and charging infrastructure is a win for the environment and a win for passengers,” expressed Frank Mühlon, head of ABB’s Electromobility division. “Moreover, we see this planned partnership as an important commitment to all relevant charging standards that are adopted by multiple electric ‘vehicle’ manufacturers. By supporting the new MegaWatt charging standard, ABB E-mobility is paving the way for the electrification of all modes of transport, from cars and trucks to marine vessels, mining vehicles, and now, aviation.”
According to Daniel Wiegand, CEO and co-founder of Lilium, providing the right charging infrastructure “crucial role in enabling our high-speed regional air network by allowing quick and efficient charging. We are proud to be working with ABB, who bring decades of experience in electrification and software, to set the charging industry standard for electric aviation.”
Lilium only recently entered into a supply agreement for battery cells with Customcells. The cells with silicon anodes will be manufactured in Tübingen and will be used in the Lilium Jet. The aircraft is an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing jet “offering leading capacity, low noise and high performance with zero operating emissions”, according to Lilium. The company does not get more specific about the technical data.
The first passenger flights with the Lilium Jet are to take place from 2024, as mentioned at the beginning. By 2025, the company is planning the first local flight connections in the above-mentioned regions. Lilium says it employs a good 700 people, including 400 engineers. At the end of March, the company, which was founded in 2015, announced its listing on the US stock exchange Nasdaq – via a merger with SPAC Qell Acquisition. New inflows of funds are also likely to be necessary: According to recent media reports, the electric air taxi start-up is short of cash. The company has amended its 2019 balance sheet to include a going concern risk note, the report says. Lilium is now drawing attention to the fact that without the upcoming US IPO or alternative financing in December 2022, it will run out of money.