06 May 2024, 12:56
Benjamin Wehrmann

Electric air taxi start-ups say lack of state support in Germany could force them abroad

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Two pioneering electric air taxi start-ups from Germany have criticised the government for not doing enough to provide the budding industry with a viable commercial perspective in the country, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. Both Volocopter and Lilium lamented that the government fails to provide adequate support to finance their scale-up. “Just about two percent of our private equity is from Germany. Only 20 percent of our employees are from Germany,” Lilium CEO Klaus Roewe told the newspaper. “We’ve spent more than 200 million euros here and receive zero support, while competitors in the U.S. or in China get hundreds of millions in state support,” Roewe argued, adding that the lack of support could push the company to relocate abroad. “If there’s so little help, what reason do we have to stay and do it all here?,” he asked.

The company from Bavaria that produces a small electric jet had applied for state guarantees of up to 100 million euros in late 2023 but so far has received no positive reply. Volocopter from Baden-Wurttemberg, which produces a small electric helicopter, applied for similar support early last year but has not yet secured the required assistance either, leading CEO Dirk Hoke to warn against a possible insolvency of his company, or at least a sell-off to investors from abroad. Lilium CEO Roewe told the newspaper that investors would regard the lack of support as a sign that the German government has little trust in the air taxi companies’ success, which could lead to a “fatal” blow to the transport start-ups. “My plan A is to become successful in Germany. My plan B is to become successful somewhere else. Failure is not an option,” Roewe said, adding that possible investors from China, Saudi Arabia or the U.S. could ultimately fund the companies’ full-scale launch.

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