Jul 6, 2023 - Technology

The "flying car" dream just won't die

Rendering courtesy of Alef Aeronautics

Aviation startup Alef Aeronautics recently received Federal Aviation Administration approval to test its flying car.

Details: The all-electric "Model A" is designed to take off and land vertically, putting it in the emerging category of eVTOL — electric vertical takeoff and landing — aircraft.

  • Alef expects to sell the Model A for $300,000 a piece, and says it has received hundreds of pre-orders.

Reality check: "Flying cars" have captured the public's imagination since one appeared in the 1974 Bond flick "The Man With the Golden Gun" — but such projects usually fizzle out.

Flying cars tend to be both bad cars and bad airplanes.

  • Case in point: The Alef is being designed to have 200 miles of road range or 110 miles of airborne range, and can carry a max of just two people.
  • Those aren't impressive numbers. Today's best electric cars are topping 300 miles of range, while even your basic four-seat Cessna 172 can cover over 600 nautical miles without refueling.
  • Plus, the Alef is limited to just 25 mph while in driving mode.

The bottom line: eVTOLS are coming, but they probably won't be privately owned — think more "Uber for the skies" than "car I can fly."

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