Please refer to our disclaimer at the bottom of the report.
Lilium regularly releases PR statements on future suppliers, potential partners, and even its fancy cabin design.
Yet the company has not demonstrated any meaningful range on test flights, even after moving its flight program to Spain. As a reminder, the Lilium Jet eats through power at far greater rates than comparable vehicles.
Lilium did demote its founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand to chief engineer for innovation and future programs, which likely shows the board’s frustration with Lilium’s slow progress.
Lilium is also slowly learning that not all PR campaigns work out well. Handelsblatt reported in July, “A look through the darkened windows shows: Lilium’s demonstrator is still flying with a forklift battery, which takes up a large part of the cockpit. A four-minute test flight lowers the charge level to just 66 percent.” The journalist also found that the Jet produced a lot of noise: “Then it gets loud: When the 36 rotors start, it sounds as if someone had started a huge industrial vacuum cleaner.” More on this noise issue below.
This follow-up report will show:
- Zenlabs’s magical cell properties are meaningless without durability.
- The technological issues with the Jet go considerably deeper than originally thought. Professor Volker Gollnick — a German aeronautics expert — reviewed Lilium’s white paper and helped identify these problems.
- Zenlabs’s magical cells properties don’t matter in the absence of durability
Lilium recently acknowledged that its mysterious potential battery technology provider is Zenlabs, which we suspected. This company is a 35%-associated company of Lilium. Its CEO Sujeet Kumar was accused by General Motors of misrepresenting the state of its technology, while at his previous company Envia Systems. Zenlabs’ patents come from Envia.
Lilium’s recent blog post suggests the company has found the world’s best battery technology to support its ambitious 250km range: “You can see that the advantage of the Zenlabs cell is its combination of both superior specific energy and specific power capabilities. With this comparison, the Zenlabs cell surpasses both the specific power capability of the high power cell and the specific energy capability of the high energy cell.”
The cell performance has been confirmed by a third party Energy Assurance. But the test report reveals the cells have only been tested for two cycles. It’s easy to claim exceptional properties if durability is not tested.
Source: Energy Assurance Test Report on Zenlabs cells
Indeed, Kumar pulled the same trick at his previous company Envia.
Source: Quartz,“The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric car” (12/19/13)
Lilium has been unable to respond to criticisms of the Jet’s power-hungry design. It has instead chosen to make Hail Mary claims of a miraculous battery cell that would beat anything on the market. Similar to Theranos, this is Lilium’s way of “faking it till you make it”.
2) The review of the Lilium’s white paper by an aeronautics professor reveals that Lilium’s technological flaws run deeper than thought
Lilium published a white paper on 6 March 2021 to demonstrate its eVTOL’s capabilities with existing battery technology. It was issued in response to criticism in the German professional press. Lilium boasted the paper was reviewed by five aeronautics professors.
We asked Volker Gollnick, Professor of aeronautics at the Institut für Lufttransportsysteme of Hamburg, to review this white paper. His conclusions are very critical. His entire report has been attached below. The report was amended based on Lilium’s feedback, which unfortunately, remained vague on some key aspects.
The main findings of the report are:
- Prof. Gollnick spoke to the aeronautics professors named in Lilium’s white paper. It appears that the professors had indeed reviewed the calculation methodologies. But they did not agree with the numerical assumptions. This is a major difference that clearly undermines the white paper.
- Noise levels from the Lilium Jet are expected to be higher than a helicopter because of very high exhaust speed produced by the ducted fans.
From the report:
- The Jet’s real range is much shorter with more realistic assumptions, which include:
- Longer hover time: Hovering is the most energy intensive phase and needs ‘approximately 2-3 minutes’ versus the 1-1.5 minutes stated by Lilium. Longer time is necessary to clear obstacles on take-off.
- Minimum de-charging level: set at 20% to prevent battery damage, rather than Lilium’s assumption of 10%.
- Battery ageing: Lilium has not considered losses from maximum battery ageing across various charging cycles. This factor is set at 20% for lithium batteries.
- Reductions in battery capacity are introduced, a result of packaging cells into batteries (30%) and integration (15% loss for battery control, safety measures, etc..)
These assumptions, progressively applied in the paper, result in a much lower range:
- With battery technology available in 3 years: range would be only 19km for a 5-seater
- With battery technology available in 6-7 years: range would be only 58km for a 5-seater.
We are very far from the 250km range targeted by Lilium with current battery technology.
The complete report is attached below.
Lilium should have remained a school project and never come to market to raise hundreds of millions. There is no redemption for companies when their technology is structurally flawed. We had the same conclusion with EOS Energy, which is now down 93%. The same fate awaits Lilium. Wiegand recently announced that Lilium wanted to raise two more rounds of money. We believe it’s high time to end this charade before more investor money is incinerated.
Our research and reports express our opinions, which we have based upon generally available public information, field research, inferences and deductions through our due diligence and analytical process. To the best of our ability and belief, all information contained herein is accurate and reliable, and has been obtained from public sources we believe to be accurate and reliable, and who are not insiders or connected persons of the stock covered herein or who may otherwise owe any fiduciary duty or duty of confidentiality to the issuer. We strive for accuracy and completeness to support our opinions, and we have a good faith belief in everything we write, however, all such information is presented “as is,” without warranty of any kind – whether express or implied. Iceberg Research (“Iceberg”) makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, timeliness, or completeness of any such information or with regard to the results to be obtained from its use. You agree that the use of Iceberg’s research is at your own risk. In no event will Iceberg be liable for any direct or indirect trading losses caused by any information available on this report. Think critically about our opinions and do your own research and analysis before making any investment decisions. You should seek the advice of a security professional regarding your stock transactions.
You should assume that as of the publication date of our reports and research, Iceberg may have a short position in the securities (and/or options, swaps, and other derivatives related to the stock) covered herein, and therefore may stand to realize gains in the event that the price of the covered securities declines. We may continue transacting in the securities of the company covered in this report, and we may buy, sell, cover or otherwise change the form or substance of our position in the issuer regardless of our initial views set out herein.
This is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security, nor shall Iceberg offer, sell or buy any security to or from any person through this site or reports on this site. Iceberg is not registered as an investment advisor in any jurisdiction. You agree to do your own research and due diligence before making any investment decision with respect to securities discussed herein. You represent to Iceberg that you have sufficient investment sophistication to critically assess the information, analysis and opinions in this report.
We are entitled to our opinions and to the right to express such opinions in a public forum. We believe that the publication of our opinions about public companies that we research is in the public interest. This report and all statements contained herein are the opinion of Iceberg and are not statements of fact. You can publicly access any piece of evidence cited in this report or that we relied on to write this report. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice, and Iceberg does not undertake to update or supplement any reports or any of the information, analysis and opinion contained in them.
You agree that use of Iceberg’s research is at your own risk. In no event will you hold Iceberg or any affiliated party liable for any direct or indirect trading losses caused by any information on this site. You further agree to do your own research and due diligence before making any investment decision with respect to securities covered herein. You represent to Iceberg that you have sufficient investment sophistication to critically assess the information, analysis and opinion on Iceberg’s site and in this report. You further agree that you will not communicate the contents of this report to any other person unless that person has agreed to be bound by these same terms of service.
By downloading, opening and/or reading this report you knowingly and independently agree: (i) to abide by the terms of service of our website, which are hereby fully incorporated herein, (ii) that any dispute arising from your use of this report or viewing the material herein shall be governed by the laws of the State of New York, United States, without regard to any conflict of law provisions; (iii) to submit to the personal and exclusive jurisdiction of the superior courts located within the State of New York and waive your right to any other jurisdiction or applicable law; and (iv) that regardless of any statute or law to the contrary, any claim or cause of action arising out of or related to use of this website or the material herein must be filed within one (1) year after such claim or cause of action arose or be forever barred. The failure of Iceberg to exercise or enforce any right or provision of this disclaimer shall not constitute a waiver of this right or provision. If any provision of this disclaimer is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the parties nevertheless agree that the court should endeavor to give effect to the parties’ intentions as reflected in the provision and rule that the other provisions of this disclaimer remain in full force and effect, in particular as to this governing law and jurisdiction provision.