There are some self-styled "flying cars" that you can buy today: Terrafugia & Transition and AeroMobil are two that I can think of immediately. The Dutch-made PAL-V Liberty is another that claims to be the first commercially available flying car. A production version was available at the Geneva Motor Show this week for anyone looking for a break from the avalanche of supercars on display.
Using the term "flying car" to describe anything seems pretty inaccurate. In any case, the PAL-V Liberty looks like a reasonably well-executed cross between a gyrocopter and an Elio Motors three-wheeled vehicle. In other words, more Road Warrior than Blade Runner.
When in road mode, it is about the size of a small car. The vehicle has two separate engines, one for the flight and one for the street; to 99 horsepower, which according to the company is enough to push the Liberty to a top speed of 100 mph. However, with a tilting suspension and a suggested maximum weight of only one ton, it should still be entertained on a winding road.
PAL-V Liberty claims to be certified to fly under the European Aviation Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration. UU And it complies with the road safety regulations as well. Naturally, you will still need a pilot's license to fly it (and a driver's license to drive it), and you need a small airfield or runway to take off and land. It takes between five and 10 minutes to go from flying to driving mode and vice versa.
The flying cars are having a moment now, with big companies like Uber, Airbus and Intel, all throwing cash in the hope of creating an air taxi service. But the Liberty does not seem to be designed for any modern "mobility solution". Rather it is a throwback to what we think flying cars should see a decade ago, when we could not conceive that electric motors were powerful enough to fly.
The prototypes that have attracted the most attention, from startups such as Lilium, Volocopter, Ehang and Vahana, have more in common with drones than with cars, with autonomous features and multiple rotors powered by electric batteries. In any case, using the "flying car" as a designator is passé – most experts in this space hate the phrase – while eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) is the preferred buzzword.
There are two available versions of this flying car: the Pioneer version for $ 599,000, with a "unique" interior and exterior and the sports edition for $ 399,000. PAL-V executives say that all remaining certifications will be awarded on the basis of the production model they exhibit in Geneva. "Once full certification is granted in 2019," PAL-V executive director Robert Dingemanse said in a statement, "we will deliver the PAL-V Liberty keys to our first customers."