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  • Writer's pictureAmit Kukreja

How Palantir's Investment in Lilium Could Shake Up the Air Transportation Space

Electric airplanes may soon become a reality thanks to German air taxi startup Lilium, which has partnered with Palantir Technologies to access the latter's Foundry software for data integration. Palantir has invested around $41 million in Lilium's special purpose acquisition company offering to get equity in parts of the company, allowing them to integrate their flagship software into startups going public. Palantir and Foundry's software integration strategy makes sense, as it enables them to gain more market share with potential game-changing companies that could be the next Amazon or Boeing.

Lilium is planning to launch an electric vehicle takeoff and landing (EVTO) jet by 2024, a feat only made possible by revolutions in battery technology. The company aims to compete for the one to three trillion-dollar market, which will be shared with a growing number of competitors in the electric plane sector. The jet will be able to charge 80% in 15 minutes and 100% in 30 minutes. Lilium has proprietary technology at the core of its platform that is scalable, which could enable the company to recreate its design hundreds of times to create a fleet of electric air taxis that could become the primary form of personal transportation by 2050.

The potential benefits of electric planes extend beyond just noise reduction and environmental sustainability. The efficiency gains of electric engines could revolutionize the airline industry by cutting fuel costs and reducing maintenance needs. Electric engines have fewer parts than traditional jet engines, which means that they require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan. This would significantly reduce the cost of operating an airline, making air travel cheaper and more accessible to people around the world.

Moreover, electric planes could enable airlines to fly more direct routes, as they would not be limited by the need to refuel. This could significantly reduce travel times and make long-haul flights more feasible. Additionally, electric planes would not emit harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, which would improve air quality around airports and along flight paths.

While battery technology still has a ways to go before it can power transcontinental flights, there is significant progress being made in the field. The development of solid-state batteries, which promise higher energy densities and faster charging times than current lithium-ion batteries, could be a game-changer for the electric aviation industry. Additionally, advancements in materials science and aerodynamics are enabling the development of more efficient and lighter aircraft designs, which will further reduce the energy requirements of electric planes.

They would significantly reduce the environmental impact of air travel, lower operating costs for airlines, and improve the overall travel experience for passengers. As battery technology continues to improve, we can expect to see more and more electric planes taking to the skies in the coming years. While it may be a while before we see transcontinental flights powered solely by electricity, the future of air travel looks brighter than ever thanks to the promise of electric aviation.

Palantir and Foundry's software integration into Lilium could be significant, as Lilium has the potential to create a new market for electric air taxis. However, battery technology needs to improve, and costs need to reduce before electric air taxis can become commercially viable for long distances. Lilium's jet can only travel short distances, and the company's target is to become commercially operational by 2024 if it passes regulation guidelines.

In the next 30 years, Lilium's market opportunity could be significant. In 2030, it could be used as a toy for the rich, allowing them to travel quickly without using traditional jets. By 2040, it could challenge mass transit models on selected urban routes, transporting a large number of commuters across high-density point-to-point routes. By 2050, it could replace cars as the primary form of personal transportation, with door-to-door service becoming financially feasible for large parts of the population. If Lilium becomes a significant player in the electric air taxi sector, Palantir could reap the rewards, making its investment a strategic move for the long term.

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