LuftCar signs deal to develop detachable flying vans in the Philippines
Florida's LuftCar has designed a real burger with the lot: a hydrogen-powered jeepney van that backs into a special detachable airframe to turn into a high-speed, long-range, cruise-capable vectored-thrust eVTOL, perfect for island hopping.
The company has just announced it's signed a MoU with eFrancisco Motor Corporation in the Philippines, under which the two pledge to develop, integrate, deploy, brand and market a series of collaboratively designed Pinoy hydrogen eVTOLs built around eFrancisco's vehicle chassis.
eFrancisco, you see, is adapting the traditional Filipino jeepney into something a lot more like a van, and planning to run it on hydrogen fuel cells. Not just any van, either. Oh no, this one's gonna have a flip-up front for getting in and out.
Oh, and clips on the roof so you can back it up into a five-point docking station to attach the airframe, complete with six tilting propellers. At this point, it's not a jeepney any more, it's a flying LuftCar super-jeepney. That hydrogen powertrain gives it a mighty 300-mile (483 km) flight range, at speeds up to 220 mph (354 km/h), eclipsing eVTOL market leader Joby Aviation on both counts despite having a frickin' car stuck on the bottom of it.
Could there be a more perfect conveyance for the 7,100-island archipelago that is the Philippines? Pootle down to the shops at Cebu, or Luft yourself and your ékipó into the air and pop across to karaoke on Bohol. Susmariosep! Everyone's gonna want one.
"Our flying and road vehicle concept is tailor made for connecting the archipelagos and serving cargo, air ambulance, tourism, and regional transportation verticals," said LuftCar CEO Santh Sathya in a press release. "Our hydrogen propulsion will serve long distance and heavy payload carrying needs in the region, LuftCars have a big role to play in defense in the region enabling ship to base and base to outpost missions. We are excited about partnering with eFMC, whose leadership has a clear vision for clean energy transportation for Philippines."
There's one serious problem with this design, and that's the paint job. What the hell? This thing looks about as Filipino as the flying Winnebago from Spaceballs. Even DALL-E knows what an eVTOL Jeepney's really gonna look like.
Naturally, LuftCar – which currently lists its address as a co-working space in Orlando without any visible "LuftPads" – is going to need some investment behind it to get things going. There may be a teeny weeny bit of red tape to get through before a street-legal flip-front hydrogen van that converts into a fuel-cell-powered tilt-rotor eVTOL aircraft makes it through the rigors of automotive and aviation certification and hits the road.
Apparently, the company's already got US$1.5 million from investors, which we'd consider a triumph of the human spirit. Personally, I reckon these guys are doing everyone a disservice if they don't sign another MoU with Alieno, creators of the 5,221-horsepower Bulgarian Batmobile, to make a flying version of that thing.
Enjoy a short video below, we sure did!