At Top Marques Monaco this week, the Prince of Monaco pulled the covers off a flying car that is set to enter garages – or hangars – from 2020. Slovakia-based AeroMobil displayed what it claims is the production model of its Flying Car, and started taking pre-orders for an initial 500-unit run ahead of anticipated full production.
With the curves and presence of a supercar, the AeroMobil should fit in a large car parking space. You can drive it at up to 160 km/h (99 mph) on the road, then pull in to an airport and convert it to a plane at the touch of a button.
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The conversion process takes less than three minutes, during which the wings fold out, the driven front wheels tuck themselves into the chassis, and a variable pitch pusher prop folds out at the rear. Some 300-odd horsepower from a custom 2.0-liter turbo engine is switched between the front wheels and the pusher prop through a bespoke transmission.
AeroMobil rates the machine as having a 700-km (435-mi) range on the ground, or about a 750 km (466-mi) cruise range when airborne, on a 90-liter (23.8 gal) tank of 95 RON fuel. Airborne cruise speed is rated at 259 km/h (161 mph), and it'll safely carry a maximum load of 240 kg (529 lb), enough for two average adults and luggage.
This is not the machine that'll take the average chump's commute into the third dimension. Apart from the eye-watering price tag, it's every bit an airplane, so you'll need a pilot's license and a bunch of hours under your belt to fly it.
Our expectation is that most people's first exposure to vertical commuting will come in the form of an autonomous VTOL multirotor with cruise capability – something along the lines of what Uber describes in its Elevate whitepaper, like the machines Aurora Flight Sciences, Joby Aviation and Zee.Aero are building.
But this machine looks like a nicely executed high-end medium-distance roadable aircraft that could definitely find a place in the lives of wealthy long-distance commuters with access to local airstrips. And we would certainly not be surprised to learn there's enough of those out there to buy the first 500-unit production run, despite the vehicle's €1.2 to 1.5 million (US$1.3 to $1.6 million) price tag.
Check out an animation of the flight conversion process on the AeroMobil Flying Car in the video below, which looks even cooler than the upward-opening doors.