Aviation Startup Lilium and ABB Announce Plans to Build a MegaWatt eVTOL Charging Network

Aviation Startup Lilium and ABB Announce Plans to Build a MegaWatt eVTOL Charging Network

Author: Eric Walz   

Alongside the rapid development of electric vehicles, a handful of aviation startups are working on electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for urban air mobility (UAM), including German aviation startup Lilium.

Lilium plans to operate a regional air mobility service by 2024 and is building an entire UAM ecosystem complete with "veriports". These vertiports are required for the commercial launch of an eVTOL or "air taxi" service. They provide the aircraft with the infrastructure for landing, and taking off with passengers.

To support its fleet of eVTOL aircraft and a regional high-speed air network, Lilium is teaming up with Swiss technology company ABB to build out a charging network for the veriports. The locations for the network will be in Florida, Brazil and Germany where Lilium plans to launch its air taxi service.

Lilium first announced plans for the vertiports in January.

"Making sure we have the right charging infrastructure will play a crucial role in enabling our high-speed regional air network by allowing quick and efficient charging," said Daniel Wiegand, CEO and Co-Founder of Lilium.  "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."

As part of the agreement, ABB will develop, test and supply the MegaWatt fast-charging infrastructure necessary to meet the quick charging requirements of electric aviation. 

The Megawatt Charging System or MCS, is a charging connector under development for large battery electric vehicles which can deliver up to 4.5 megawatts of direct current for rapid charging. The new MCS connector is expected to become the worldwide standard charging connector for large and medium commercial electric trucks, as well as eVTOL aircraft.

ABB and Lilium plan to adhere to the relevant standards that support interoperability for the MCS. 

The ABB eVTOL charging points are designed to fully charge the batteries in Lilium's eVTOL aircraft in approximately 30 minutes. An 80% charge can be reached in about 15 minutes.

The rapid charging capabilities will enable Lilium to complete roughly 20-25 flights per aircraft per day planned across Lilium's global vertiport network. Each veriport will have multiple parking bays for the eVTOL aircraft  along with the high-power charging points. 

"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," said Frank Muehlon, President of ABB's E-mobility Division. "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."


Lilium's vertiports and charging network will support an urban air mobility service.

About the Lilium Jet

Lilium's 7-Seater (1 pilot, 6 passengers) Lilium Jet can travel up to 155 miles at speeds of 175mph. The aircraft is powered by 36 electric motors. The motors are designed to be ultra-quiet with air ducts that dissipate noise before it leaves the engine, so they are suitable for dense urban areas where noise can be a concern. 

The engines face downward like a rocket to take-off, then pivot to a horizontal position for flight. Once airborne, lift is provided by the Lilium Jet's wings and the electric jets are used solely for propulsion. 

Since the Lilium Jet is much quieter than a helicopter, it can be flown lower over urban areas without disturbing the residents below. The quiet electric engines also deliver a more comfortable experience for passengers, the company said.

In September, Limium became a public company after it completed its merger with Qell Acquisition Corp ("Qell"), a publicly listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) headed by former General Motors North American President Barry Engle.

Qell was formed in San Francisco in Aug 2020. The company invests in high-growth businesses in next-generation mobility, transportation or sustainable technology sectors. 

Lilium's stock is listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol "LILM."

The partnership with ABB is still subject to the parties finalizing the commercial terms.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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