The top 5 flying cars about to go on sale
Get on the road, and then off the road, and into the air
Technology has progressed a lot since the pipe-dream days of the flying DeLorean from Back to the Future. In 2020, we may be just a couple of centuries away from figuring out time travel, but we seem to be extremely close to unravelling the wonder that is a proper flying car.
So close, in fact, that Hyundai showcased the concept model of its very first air taxi just yesterday at Las Vegas. While Uber claims we still have another three years to take a ride in that life-size drone, here we look at some of the production-spec road-going flying cars that are either already on sale or are touted to be on the market in the next few years.
Unlike the model showcased by Hyundai, the Aeromobil 4.0 is a STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) vehicle. This flying car requires a short runaway to achieve initial flight as well as to land safely without mowing the grass. It's got retractable wings, which sit flush with the carbon composite bodywork when on the road and expand within three minutes when the driver is in a mood for some fresh air.
While in the air, the vehicle will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged flat-four engine putting out 300hp. This allows the Aeromobil to fly at speeds of 270kph (167mph) for 700km (434 miles). At present, the vehicle is said to comply with all road and airborne regulations with the company looking to hand over the first customer keys in 2021. The most interesting bit, apart from the $1million-plus price tag? The manufacturer is neither based out of Germany or Italy. It from Slovakia.
The same company which planted the seed of flying car in our heads in the 1980s is back with a proper production-spec version. Although it looks radically different from the one shown in Hollywood movies, DeLorean claims this to be a ‘Formula 1 racecar... for the sky’. Developed as a personal craft, the DR-7 uses a twin forward and rear tilt propeller setup with retractable wings to allow easy garage parking. The propellers are capable of 360-degree forward/back tilt enabling the craft to attain vertical take-off and landing. While in the air, the cruising speed is set at 241kph with the DR-7 capable of maxing out at 389kph (240mph). The range is limited to just 193kms (120 miles), but the price tag goes on to range from $250,000 up to $350,000. The firm hasn’t declared any official commercial launch date yet, but one can expect to see it in the flesh at one of the CES conventions in the next five years.
Touted to be the world’s first flying car, the Liberty is essentially a small two-person personal road-going aircraft. Although it has a three-wheeled layout, it ain’t no Reliant Robin. Carrying dual engines — one for driving and the other for flying — the Liberty requires take-off spaces similar to a small airstrip to achieve flight. While the large rotor on top helps the vehicle to produce lift, the blade at the rear provides thrust. Converting the car to flight mode takes about 10 minutes with the tail section unfolding manually. The Liberty carries a 200hp flying engine, enabling a top speed figure of 180kph (112mph) along with a claimed range of 498km (310 miles). According to the company CEO, the car complies with existing safety standards and the first deliveries are due post-2021. Introductory prices are said to hover above the $350,000 mark.
If you Google "flying car", the Terrafugia Transition tends to be one of the first images shown. The reason is that the company unveiled this car-plane hybrid vehicle almost a decade ago. It's powered by a four-cylinder hybrid-electric engine, enabling it to gain cruising fly speeds of up to 160kph (100mph) with a range of 643km (400 miles). Converting this road-runner into a personal aircraft takes less than a minute. However, the user will need an airstrip to get it in the air. Until 2018, the company was determined to put it up on sale by 2019 at an estimated price of $400,000, but there has been no word on it since. On the plus side, reports suggest the company is developing a VTOL flying car concept, dubbed as the TF-2 with first unveil said to happen by 2023. Fingers and toes crossed!
No list can be complete with a dash of vintage into it. Believe it or not, this 1954 Taylor Aerocar is the only flying car you can buy today. Interested buyers will have to wage a bidding war as the vehicle will be available at the Barrett-Jackson car auction, Scottsdale, starting January 11th. This classic car is every bit as vintage as it seems. The user will have to manually attach its wings, tail assembly, and two-blade propeller, which is usually stowed away at the back of the vehicle. This DIY job is said to take half an hour to make it flight-worthy. The Aerocar comes with a 482km (300 miles) cruising range with a 160kph (100mph) cruising speed when in air. Looking for some old-fashioned aerial fun? Start bidding on this by literally throwing caution to the wind!.
If you fail, somehow, to win the Taylor Aerocar auction, then you can console yourself with this radio-controlled alternative. It's a drone. It's a car. It's a drone-car. Sweet.