Frank Stephenson joins Lilium as Head of Product Design

April 24, 2018

  • One of the world’s most renowned and influential car designers joins German aviation start-up
  • BMW X5, New MINI, Ferrari F430, Maserati MC12 and McLaren P1 are some of the cars designed by Frank Stephenson
  • Munich based Lilium developing an all-electric jet and air mobility service that promises to revolutionise travel
  • Frank Stephenson to lead new team to create company design language - from the Lilium Jet itself to the company’s wider infrastructure

Frank Stephenson, the designer of some of the world’s most iconic cars, is joining aviation startup Lilium as Head of Product Design.

The American-Spanish designer - famous for his work at BMW, Mini, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and McLaren - will lead the design of all aspects of Lilium services.

Lilium - founded in 2015 in Munich, Germany - is developing a high-speed, low-cost, zero- emissions jet that is capable of vertical take-off and landing. It will revolutionise the way people move in and around the world’s cities. The Lilium Jet is built around a unique concept which sees 36 hyper-efficient individual electric jet engines embedded into the aircraft’s wing flaps, enabling an effortless transition from hover mode into horizontal flight.

Stephenson, 58, will join a 100+ strong team in Munich from May, and recruit an entirely new design team to shape both the interior and exterior of the jet itself, as well as a design language for the company’s wider infrastructure, including landing pads and departure lounges.

Frank Stephenson said: “My last job was as high up as you could be in the car design world. The obvious question was - what next? But it wasn’t one I could easily answer. And then this incredible company - founded by four super-smart young guys - came along and it immediately felt like exactly the right move.

“Lilium is going to revolutionise city travel by moving journeys from the ground into the sky. The technology that they have already developed is truly mind boggling. My job - as we accelerate towards production and a roll-out of the service - is to develop a design that will make it not just an efficient service but a supremely well designed one. “Throughout my whole career I’ve worked hand in hand with engineers, creating vehicles that will be mechanically efficient and technically effective while also looking beautiful. I will now apply those same principles to this very latest innovation in aviation.”

The Lilium Jet will travel at speed of up to 300km per hour, and a range of up to 300km on a single all-electric charge. The jet has been designed not just to be fast, but to generate efficiencies unheard of in conventional aviation. It is estimated that the aircraft will be up to 90% more efficient than its competitors, allowing the company to deliver affordable on- demand air transport-service to cities around the world.

Daniel Wiegand, Lilium’s CEO and co-founder said: “Frank has created not just some of the most beautiful cars in the world, but some of the most high performance and functional vehicles ever seen on the road. Frank’s work is unique - he creates entirely new design languages that aren’t like anything that anyone has ever seen before. That is exactly what we’re trying to achieve at Lilium.

“Moreover, I want Lilium to deliver magical user experiences, and to be just as renowned for the design of our products and services as we are for what they deliver. I’m thrilled that someone as gifted and iconic as Frank is joining the team as he will be a true partner on our path to achieving this in the next few years.

“It is a sign of our clear leadership in this field that someone of Frank’s calibre is choosing to join us as we approach production of the Lilium Jet and launch of the Lilium service.”

A journey from Manhattan, New York, to the city’s JFK International Airport could be reduced from an hour to just a few minutes in a Lilium Jet. The aircraft’s ability to fly at high speed, before transitioning to hover mode in order to land and take off again, promises a revolution in transportation.

Frank Stephenson began his career at Ford in 1986 having graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, working on the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. He then joined BMW Group in Munich, and designed the award winning New MINI and the first BMW X5. He became Design Director at Ferrari and Maserati, before taking on the same role at Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo. In 2008, he joined McLaren and developed a new design language which underpinned the design of the McLaren range until 2017.

Lilium was founded in 2015 by Daniel Wiegand, Patrick Nathen, Matthias Meiner and Sebastian Born. The company’s two-seater full-scale prototype flew in 2017.