ABB E-mobility is developing MegaWatt fast-charging equipment for Lilium’s seven-seat eVTOL aircraft. Under a provisional agreement announced on October 13, the Switzerland-based power and automation specialist will provide the infrastructure in time to support its planned launch of commercial operations in Florida, Germany, and Brazil in 2024.
The charging points are intended to be capable of fully recharging batteries in around 30 minutes, or charging up to 80 percent in 15 minutes. The German manufacturer says this will allow each of its Lilium Jets to make between 20 and 25 daily flights across its planned network of vertiports.
Because the aircraft offer greater range (155 mph) and speed (175 mph) than most current eVTOL vehicles, Lilium plans to develop regional services connecting communities, rather than flying within cities. These will require networks of purpose-built vertiports with multiple parking bays and high-power charging points.
The system to be developed by ABB will allow for direct current charging of up to 1,000 kW and can also support electric ground vehicles, like trucks and buses. The design of the equipment will be based on common industry standards so that it will be interoperable with other eVTOL aircraft. CharlIN, the organization that promotes global standards for combined charging systems for electric vehicles, set up a MegaWatt charging system task force in 2018.
“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,” commented Frank Muehlon, president of ABB E-mobility. “Moreover, we see this planned partnership as an important commitment to all relevant charging standards that are adopted by multiple electric vehicle manufacturers. By supporting the new MegaWatt charging standard, ABB E-Mobility is paving the way for electrification of all modes of transport, from cars and trucks to marine vessels, mining vehicles, and now, aviation.”
The exact terms of the proposed commercial partnership between Lilium and ABB have still to be agreed upon. Lilium has not said whether its planned vertiports will be available to other eVTOL operators, but in some locations it could be that exclusivity will not be viable commercially or in terms of what cities officials will permit.