Air taxi startup Lilium recently hired distinguished supercar designer Frank Stephenson to make its vision of the luxury, automated flying-car a reality. Stephenson is responsible for some of the automobile industry’s most iconic designs, including the Ferrari F430, the McLaren MP4-12C and the Maserati MC12.
With well-established aerospace manufacturers like Airbus and Ehang already conducting air taxi test flights, Lilium is not wasting time establishing itself as a major player in the emerging sector. It recently won the Global Cleantech 100 Award for Early Stage Company of the Year.
Stephenson recently did an interview about his vision and design philosophy for the new Lilium air taxi. “My challenge — simply put — is to make the person who gets into the jet not want to get out of it,” he said.
Lilium’s 2-seater VTOL jet completed its maiden test flight in April of 2017. Even prior to Stephenson joining the team, the supercar design philosophy was already showing up in the streamlined body design. On the company’s websitem Lilium is making claims of a 300km range and a 399km/h top speed, which puts in the upper echelon for speed and distance in this still experimental category of aircraft.
Under Stephenson’s direction, the design team is planning to hire 100+ employees to establish a form language for the interior and exterior of Lilium’s airframes, and also establish a brand vocabulary to extend into infrastructure like landing pads and other products.
Lilium is rapidly acquiring talent from prestigious brands like Tesla, Airbus, Gett and more. In September of 2017, they received $90 Million in funding from Tencent Holdings Limited, a Chinese conglomerate who focuses mainly on internet-related products and services.