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The flying car designer keeping his eyes on the skies

The flying car designer keeping his eyes on the skies



Lilium is a thing of beauty – of that there is no doubt. A fully-electric vertical take-off and landing jet, or eVTOL, the idea was hatched by Daniel Wiegand, Sebastian Born, Matthias Meiner and Patrick Nathen while they were academics at the Technical University of Munich. All four shared a vision of a completely new type of transportation. The startup was subsequently founded in 2015 and Lilium Aviation now boasts a crack team of nearly 100.

Little wonder then that legendary designer Frank Stephenson joined the project in 2018 as creative director. With an illustrious career in the automotive industry, Stephenson has since expanded his creative interest to include everything from watches to sunglasses after opening his own agency a couple of years ago. He’s currently working on a high-tech child car seat too, which he says will be revolutionary. But it was Lilium that got him really excited.

An irresistible challenge
Lilium will have an estimated range of up to 300 kilometres, a top speed of around 300 km/h and, crucially, zero emissions. And, while there are other projects that suggest we might one day be using flying cars to get from A to B, Lilium is a little more grounded (no pun intended) in reality. The team reckons the five-seat model is the perfect solution for people who want to travel relatively short distances, particularly in heavily congested areas. Think ‘city hopper’ maybe.

“For a car designer it’s irresistible,” says Frank. “We went from walking around to horses then cars. The next step is going upwards. What you'll see when you look upwards will surprise you in way that you’ll wonder why they haven't ever done it this way before. It’ll look stunning. I can guarantee that. It will not look like your normal aeroplane.”