Thirty years ago, Back to the Future Part II predicted that by 2015, we would have flying cars dotting the horizon, hoverboards, and self-velcroing shoes. It’s two years past that estimate, and it seems we’re getting all three, admittedly in shorter supply than the futuristic scenery of film had us hoping.
Slovakian firm AeroMobil showcased its flying car at a Monaco’s exclusive Top Marques expo last month, and we’re still scratching our heads at the idea. No longer the stuff of science fiction, their Flying Car is asking prices around the $1.6-million mark. So, it’s another form of diversion for the mega-rich, but it nevertheless opens the door for automobiles that are hybrids in more ways than one.
Though the car can travel both by land and air, it’s the dual-purpose powerplant that is space age. The AeroMobil uses two electric motors to deliver a combined 110 horsepower to push the 2,100-pound car along the French Riviera, but when it comes time to take an impromptu flight over the Mediterranean, a turbocharged flat-four is employed. Displacing two liters, the boxer engine provides 300 altitude-capable horsepower that should take its occupants to their desired air speed without any dropoff as they climb above the cloudline.
Understandably, the engine is limited somewhat by the 23-gallon fuel tank, but it’s still capable of a 470-mile range in the air, and the twin motors powering the front wheels will take the car roughly 430 miles on the road. Intriguingly, the transmission can alternate between driving the front wheels on the road to a direct-drive setup to power the single propeller, which folds into the fuselage when the car is in road-going mode.
On land, the sleek shape of the AeroMobil allows it to hit 100 mph, while in-flight, it manages to hit 224 mph. Not a shabby speed, though some might want something more for their money.
According to CEO and co-founder Juraj Vaculik, their aim is “to significantly reduce the cost of flying cars in the long-term, we are bringing an automotive high-volume approach to a traditionally conservative low-volume aerospace industry, significantly cutting components costs via smart design, novel materials, and production automation whilst fully conforming with civil aviation industry requirements.”
Some of that has to come from the well-placed passenger cockpit area. Designed to occupy minimal space to maximize weight distribution, the seating positions for pilot and co-pilot are fixed to ensure complete predictability and ideal vehicle dynamics. Like a high-end racing car, the pedal box and main flight/drive controls are adjustable to meet the occupants in a well-balanced fashion.
The occupants are well-protected with the AeroMobil’s the carbon crash structure. With optional autonomous piloting and a parachute-landing system on-hand, the passengers should feel at ease in their investment while buzzing over the Ligurian Coast. Ah, la dolce vita.