He signed the new edition of the Mini and designed for McLaren sports cars for millionaires: Frank Stephenson is considered to be one of the most influential car designer of the past few years. Here he explains why he takes off in the future.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Stephenson, you have as a Designer decades in the car industry worked. Now you switch to Lilium, a Start-up that developed a flight taxi. Why?
Frank Stephenson: I think it’s incredibly exciting, a new means of transport to work. We are changing the way people move from point A to point B, fundamentally. That doesn’t happen very often in history.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: in your previous work already points of contact for air travel?
Stephenson: Yes, right at the beginning of my career, the two-piece rear wing of the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Originally, this Spoiler should have three parts! Model of the Fokker Dr. I, the Triplane from the First world war, as aircraft of the Red Baron was famous. The third Spoiler was deleted from the Finance Department at Ford, as a result, the production was, if I remember correctly, ten of the Mark cheaper. Thus, you will have saved money, but the efficiency of the Spoiler is destroyed, and the car’s character. The car had a lot of looked more dramatic.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: do you Have a favorite plane?
Stephenson: How much time do we have? (laughs). Seriously: I’m fond of aviation, and like all the planes: old, current, future. The Fokker Dr. I, the Triplane of the Red Baron, was my very first favorite plane. But I guess the Bugatti 100p from the thirty years, the should break the speed record for propeller-driven aircraft. But also spy planes like the SR-71 Blackbird excite me, from the present aircraft, the F-35, the F-22 Raptor or the Jets from Sukhoi fascinate me.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is your exchange not as a escape to understand, because the car is becoming more and more important to lose?
Frank Stephenson: I don’t believe that a flight taxi or any other means of transport, the car will replace. It will be another Option in the mobility System – and a very efficient, because it does not clog the cities. The people realize that you can not bring more vehicles on the road, without relying on modern technologies.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: For this you don’t need a vertical take-off end of flight-taxi, self-driving cars, this is a Problem to solve.
Stephenson: For me, the flying taxi is not the solution, but a solution. It allows people a completely new way to get quickly from A to B. For me, this is the secret weapon for the future: A System that brings people only to your destination, but one that you can enjoy. Cars and Taxis are comfortable, but a vertical takeoff, electric aircraft is superior to all other options.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In what situations are you thinking, but certainly not to the journey from the station to the Hotel?
Stephenson: Often enough the road to the city limit to an hour or longer in the Taxi to sit. In addition, people most prefer to sit above the traffic. This is oddly also the reason why a lot of people prefer to drive an SUV: they are above, in the so-called “Command Driving Position”, and can look at the traffic down. This makes them feel safer and better protected.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Hardly an area as heavily regulated as aviation. You, as a Designer, at all reasonable liberties in comparison to the design of a car?
Stephenson: In the automotive industry, the Design is probably much more limited than in the case of aircraft, because the encounter is usually not frontal. In a car there are for all rules. Where the headlights need to be, how the entry and exit look, everything is regulated. That’s what makes it so difficult to design a beautiful car. Therefore, all of the cars have a similar Aesthetic.
Nikolay Fashion/ Volocopter
Flight Innovation from Germany: With a Taxi through the air
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is the exchange for an exemption?
Stephenson: no, I just think it’s incredibly exciting, a new way of traveling.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: flight taxis are certainly not the only new type, and how the movement can be developed.
Stephenson: That’s true. You can also shoot people 500 kilometers away through underground vacuum tubes. But I find it uninteresting. I want to enjoy the trip. Therefore, the eVTOL (the abbreviation eVTOL stands for electric vertical take-off and landing, an aircraft with electric drive, the note vertically take off and land,. d. Red.) to travel, in my opinion, the perfect way. You can enjoy the views and while a lot of things to do.
Designer Frank Stephenson:
These are his coolest designs
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But what is with people, the fear of flying suffer? Can you help the Design feel in such a plane still safe?
Stephenson: It must be clear at first glance that the plane is safe. A plane with two engines gives more security than one with only one engine. The plane of Lilium has about 30 electric motors, if one fails, there are still quite a few left. And the Interior must be so exciting designed that the passengers are more focused on that than on the flight itself.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are also elements of the car design to the flight taxi?
Stephenson: no, I don’t want established ideas bring. But I can benefit from my experience with super sports car. Active aerodynamics is very important, so the car sticks to the road. This technology is extremely complex, but also in flight around witnesses applicable – only the other way, now it comes to lift instead of downforce.