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Flying taxi startup Lilium to go public via $3.3B SPAC deal

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Lilium Jet VTOL concept

Following the recent spate of electric-vehicle startups all announcing plans to go public via so-called “reverse mergers” with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), startups in the burgeoning flying taxi industry are now joining the party.

It was only in February that American startup Joby Aviation inked a $6.6 billion SPAC deal, and on Tuesday Germany’s Lilium announced it has reached its own deal with the SPAC company Qell Acquisition Corp., led by former General Motors senior executive Barry Engle.

Engle is expected to join the board of the merged company, which will be known as Lilium. He will be joined by Lilium’s existing board members who include Tom Enders, former CEO of Airbus, and Daniel Wiegand, CEO and co-founder of Lilium.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, with the merged company to be valued at $3.3 billion and trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LILM. Around $450 million of raised funds will be used for preparations of the launch of commercial operations, currently planned for 2024. Key tasks include establishing a production site in Germany and getting type certification for an electric aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

Lilium Jet VTOL concept

Lilium first made headlines in 2017 when its Jet prototype successfully completed its maiden flight. Lilium’s design relies on an array of electric fans that can rotate. The fans point down for takeoffs and landings and rotate to the horizontal for forward motion, a design Lilium says is more efficient and enables faster, more stable flight than the drone-like multi-copter design favored by rivals.

For commercial operations, Lilium is developing a larger aircraft known as the Jet 7-Seater. As the name suggests, the Jet 7-Seater can carry seven, but Lilium says it could also be used to transport goods across cities quickly. Lilium estimates a top cruising speed of 175 mph at an altitude of 10,000 feet and a range of over 155 miles on a charge.

The first market for commercial operations will likely be in Florida where Lilium has picked 14 locations for special hubs where its flying taxis can takeoff and land, known in the industry as vertiports. Lilium is also looking at 10 sites in Europe.

Lilium applied for concurrent type certification for a high-capacity aircraft with EASA and the FAA in 2018. In 2020 the company received CRI-A01 certification basis from EASA for the Jet 7-Seater.

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Autos

Porsche dealers compete in restoration challenge

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Porsche also has a company-owned restoration shop at its US headquarters in Atlanta

You don’t have to go all the way to Stuttgart, or even to company-owned facilities in Atlanta for restoration of your classic Porsche. To underscore that fact, the 2021 Porsche Classic Restoration Challenge involves 40 dealership service departments across the United States, each restoring a car for the company-sponsored contest.

“The entries run the gamut from the 1950s to the 2000s, from 75 to 612 horsepower, and from rear- to mid- and front-engine layout,” Porsche notes in its announcement of the challenge.

“The years and the miles have written individual histories for each car, but now a common chapter is about to tie their journeys together: the 2021 Porsche Classic Restoration Challenge.”

Previously, the challenge has been based in Europe. However, “The U.S. is home to more classic Porsche sports cars than any other market. After decades on the road, some will inevitably be in need of a little extra care. Enter the Restoration Challenge, where Porsche Classic has encouraged U.S. dealerships to acquire a car that is due for some expert technical attention to ensure many more years of driving pleasure.”

Porsche reports that multiple 356 models, some dating from 1956, as well as five generations of 911, transaxle cars including the 944 and 928, as well as “modern classics” including the first-generation Boxster, are undergoing restoration work.

“Each vehicle will undergo restoration in the best possible hands: Porsche-trained technicians who will have a portfolio of more than 60,000 unique Porsche Classic Genuine Parts at their disposal,” Porsche notes.

Nine of the participating dealerships already have been designated Porsche Classic Partners “who every day go above and beyond in their commitment to keeping vintage cars on the road and driving just as well as the moment they left the factory,” Porsche adds.

Porsche also has a company-owned restoration shop at its US headquarters in Atlanta

]The challenge runs until mid-August when winners will be chosen from three regions — East, South-Central, and West. Those cars will advance to the challenge finals in September, when the winner will be selected based not only on the restoration itself but on documentation.

For more information, visit the Porsche Classic website.

This article, written by Larry Edsall, was originally published on ClassicCars.com, an editorial partner of Motor Authority.

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Maybach to celebrate 100th anniversary of first car, announce EV

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1921 Maybach 22/70 HP W3

Maybach was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son Karl, originally as a company supplying engines for Zeppelin airships and later trains.

The company would soon expand into the car business, with the first prototype, the W1 Testwagen, unveiled in 1919. It proved so popular that a production version was launched just two years later.

That production version was the 22/70 HP W3, unveiled by Maybach in September 1921 at the Berlin International Motor Show. It featured an inline-6 engine generating 70 hp, an impressive figure for the time, as well as many other engineering and luxury marvels, such as brakes at each wheel, a planetary gearbox, and an interior lined in leather and wood.

1921 Maybach 22/70 HP W3

A little over 300 examples of the 22/70 HP W3 were built, after which Maybach launched a variety of additional cars. Maybach ceased building cars at the onset of the Second World War and never returned to it after the war ended, and by 1960 the company was absorbed into Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz.

Today Maybach is a sub-brand of Mercedes and the German automaker plans to celebrate this year’s 100th anniversary of the launch of the 22/70 HP W3. However, the automaker hasn’t said what exactly it has planned so we’ll have to wait and see.

There will likely be special editions of the current Maybach S-Class and Maybach GLS-Class, and judging by the photo above there will also be a reveal of a new V-12-powered Maybach S-Class (only a V-8 is available at present). We can also confirm that an electric Maybach will be revealed in the coming months. It will likely be an ultra-lux version of the new EQS sedan. Stay tuned.

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2022 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop arrives with new look, old power

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2022 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

Mini is giving its Hardtop (and Convertible) a subtle facelift for the 2022 model year, and that includes the high-performance John Cooper Works variant.

The 2022 John Cooper Works Hardtop was revealed on Wednesday. Timing for the United States hasn’t been announced but we should see the vehicle in dealerships before the year is out.

2022 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

The changes include revised fascias front and rear that help give the hot hatch an even sportier look, thanks mostly to the larger grille which now extends all the way down to the front splitter. The fender accents and rear diffuser are also new designs, and there are two new paint options: Island Blue metallic and Rooftop Gray metallic.

The interior has also been updated to match the changes made to the rest of the 2022 Hardtop lineup. This includes a new 8.8-inch screen in the center of the dash. A fun touch is the changing color of the screen; it goes red when the vehicle is in sport mode. This function also applies to the available screen that mounts to the steering column.

2022 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

2022 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

No changes were made to the powertrain. Under the hood, you’ll find a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It drives the front wheels only and can be paired with either an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual. The automatic is the quicker option, as it delivers 0-62 mph acceleration in 6.1 seconds versus the 6.3 seconds of the manual.

Other performance features of the John Cooper Works Hardtop include adaptive suspension, a stainless-steel sport exhaust system, and Brembo brakes with four-piston calipers up front. A set of 17-inch (18-inch available) light alloy wheels also come with the car.

2022 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

2022 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

Pricing and detailed specifications for the U.S. market will be announced closer to the sales launch.

The 2022 update to the Hardtop range is actually the second update for the current generation. A redesigned Hardtop is expected to bow in 2023 and will likely be the last fitted with an internal-combustion engine. Mini in March said its entire lineup will be electric by the early 2030s.

Mini Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW

Mini Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW

Speaking of electric Minis, a battery-powered version of the current John Cooper Works Hardtop is expected to be launched next year. It was previewed by the recently revealed Pacesetter Formula E safety car.

For more on the Mini Hardtop, read the in-depth reviews at The Car Connection.

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