It may not be long before you can look up to the skies and see cars flying overhead. Companies around the world are trying to solve the problem of urban congestion by lifting travelers above the traffic. Plus, it’s just a cool way to travel.
One firm in Florida already has a flying car on the market and three others are close to ushering their concepts into production. Most will require a standard driver’s license and some type of drone or pilot’s license.
Unlike eVTOLs, flying cars actually fit into existing regulatory structures. According to Dr. Kyriakos Kourousis, program director at the University of Limerick program in airworthiness and fellow at the Royal Aeronautical Society: “The market could be bigger than that corresponding to ultralight/light and general aviation aircraft.” That translates to thousands of flying cars.
Several of the vehicles will be sold as kits, which makes for easier approval under FAA regulatory structures. Though years away, the eventual plan for many is to go fully autonomous when in flight mode.
Until then, however, owners will be responsible for driving and flying. Which is the whole point, really. Otherwise, where’s the fun?
Pal V Liberty
The $300,000 Liberty Sport from Netherlands-based PAL-V International is currently in its final test program and slated to begin deliveries next year. The company says the three-wheeled car converts into a two-passenger gyroplane in less than five minutes.
In road-going mode, the Liberty Sport will hit 0 to 60 mph in less than nine seconds on its way to a top speed just below 100 mph. Its flight range will be roughly 250 miles when with two passengers, or 310 miles, with just the pilot.
Unlike a helicopter, the Liberty Sport requires a short airstrip for takeoff. It cannot rise vertically because it is not powered by a rotor. Instead, the vehicle’s blades generate lift, and its forward thrust is provided by a separate motor and propeller, like a fixed-wing airplane but with a shorter takeoff distance.
The $170,000 Switchblade flying car from Oregon-based Samson Sky is a two-passenger, three-wheeled, street-legal vehicle. The company says that the two-mode conveyance can be driven from the garage to the local airport, where it launches into flight. Samson also plans to offer one-of-one Limited Edition models starting at $770,000.
Once activated for flight mode, the wings swing out and the tail extends in less than three minutes. When it lands, its wings fold into the sides of the car. The Switchblade can reach a maximum altitude of 13,000 feet with a cruise speed of 160 mph. The car is classified as an Experimental Category aircraft, requiring owners to build 51 percent of the vehicle at Samson’s Builder Assist Center, where they will spend one week guided by staff.
The company said it is in the test-flight phase and plans to announce the first official flight soon. It expects to begin deliveries of the flying car in 2025.
California-based Aska bills its A5 as the world’s first drive and fly eVTOL. Roughly the size of an SUV, the hybrid-electric A5 uses six propellers to take off vertically from a vertipad and fly as an aircraft.
In flight, the A5 can travel 250 miles at a maximum speed of 150 mph. The company aims to certify the car for travel up to 70 mph on the highway while in drive mode. The first version will be piloted, both on the road and in the air, but Aska has bigger plans for the future. “Eventually we expect it will be fully autonomous, both on the road and in the air,” Aska Co-Founder and Chair/COO Maki Kaplinsky says.
The company intends to bring the A5 to market by 2026.
Klein Vision AirCar
The AirCar from Slovakia-based Klein Vision resembles a cross between a futuristic Italian hypercar and a military tank. At the press of a button, the tail extends and wings unfold from a hidden compartment, transforming the AirCar from a slick roadster into a two-passenger aircraft.
When it reaches the market, the AirCar’s price is expected to range from $500,000 to $1 million. The flying car has been certified by Slovakian air-transport authorities. Klein Vision, which is seeking certification across Europe, also plans to make four-passenger and amphibious versions.
Alef Model A
California-based Alef recently unveiled a concept of its Model A, which it says is the only flying automobile with street-legal driving and vertical-takeoff abilities. The battery-powered device launches vertically, using eight propellers housed inside a body roughly the size of a big automobile.
With a payload for two people and their luggage, the Alef Model A seats two passengers inside a bubble-like compartment. The fully-electric machine can travel 200 miles on the road and 110 miles in flight, according to the company. A full-size demonstration car is currently in road and flight tests.
An animated video from Alef shows the Model A in the air, its body rotating 90 degrees after takeoff to move from upward to forward flight. On presale for $300,000, the Model A is slated to enter production during the first quarter of 2025.
This electric aircraft by Doroni isn’t designed to drive long distances, but it will function as a personal vehicle, as opposed to the wheel-less, air-taxi design of most eVTOLs. The Miami-based company is designing the H1 as a “semi-autonomous” aircraft so that anyone with a standard driver’s license and 20-hour training course can fly it. The company plans to certify it as a Light Sport Aircraft under FAA regulations.
The two-seat flying car has two sets of wings with large ducted fans providing thrust and lift. It will have a 500-lb. payload. The H1 has a projected range of 50 miles and top speed of 140 mph. The company says deliveries will start in 2024.
Maverick Flying Car
This buggy-like, paragliding vehicle certainly doesn’t fit in with the sleek, curved airframes of the others on this list, but the Maverick from Florida’s I-TEC Education Center is actually certified and available for sale. It’s mainly being sold for recreational use, but I-TEC designed it as a flying car for missionaries trying to reach the world’s most remote areas by flying over jungles. As a car, the 140-hp, fuel-injected 16-valve engine will push the Maverick from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. It has a top speed of 90 mph. In flight mode, the central telescopic mast raises and acts as a wing spar for its chute, or ram-air wing, and the rear-mounted five-blade propeller pushes it to a takeoff speed of 40 mph. It can take off in just 300 feet. The aircraft is street-legal, and is classified by the FAA as an experimental aircraft.