Air taxi companies such as Germany’s Lilium NV and Volocopter are encountering challenges due to a drop in tech stock valuations, economic pressures, and a risk-averse investment environment in Europe. The chief executives of these firms have highlighted the difficulties they face in securing sufficient investment to propel the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL), which have been hailed as the future of urban air mobility.
One of the main concerns is the timing of financing in the current environment. Volocopter CEO Dirk Hoke, speaking at the EBACE business jet event in Geneva, referred to the “valley of death” stage, where companies are beyond the early stage but still pre-revenue, facing uncertainties about the certification pathway. Hoke emphasized the challenge of securing investment under such circumstances.
Lilium NV CEO Klaus Roewe echoed this sentiment, noting the stress factor arising from the combination of being pre-revenue and the lack of understanding regarding the certification process. He highlighted the importance of finding investors who believe in the potential of the industry, mentioning that Lilium has found more receptive investors in China. The company recently announced its plan to raise up to $250 million, including funding from its largest shareholder, Tencent Holdings.
Despite the hurdles, Roewe urged investors not to lose faith, especially as more cities express interest in establishing infrastructure for an air taxi system. He emphasized that taking risks is crucial for the evolution of the industry and urged investors to recognize the long-term potential of air taxis.
The air taxi sector has drawn global interest, with numerous eVTOL companies going public. Volocopter, for instance, is working closely with Europe’s aviation safety regulator EASA and Paris airports to achieve commercial flight operations for its air taxis by the 2024 Paris Olympics. However, with the ongoing challenges in securing investment, the industry seeks a supportive investment climate that understands the potential of this transformative technology.