The world's first commercially-available flying car has been revealed at the Top Marques supercar show in Monaco and is now available for pre-order.
Simply called Flying Car, and produced by Slovakian company AeroMobil, the vehicle resembles a car with fold-out wings. The transformation from car to plane takes less than three minutes, the company claims, while it can travel for either 700km (435 miles) on the road or 750km in the air at 75% of its top speed.
The vehicle is priced between €1.2m and €1.5m (£1m to £1.3m) depending on specification and AeroMobil says no more than 500 examples will be produced. The first 25 off the production line will be called the Founders Edition and include additional, as-yet undisclosed, benefits.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine combined with an electric motor; it has a top speed 110mph on the road and 224mph in the air. AeroMobil will be taking pre-orders for the vehicle at the Top Marques show, which opened in Monaco on 20 April, and the first deliveries to customers are expected to happen in 2020. The price has not yet been made public.
"Today is a transformative day for the future of travel as the launch of the AeroMobil means everyday flying transportation will soon be a reality," said Juraj Vaculik, co-founder and CEO of AeroMobil.
The company, which scooped up $3.2m (£2.6m) in investor funding earlier this month, said the flying car "heralds in a new era in efficiency and exciting travel, offering users an unparalleled choice of transport on the road or in the air."
Aeromobil believes the commercial availability of its car will make personal transport "vastly more efficient and environmentally friendly by allowing significantly faster door-to-door travel for medium distance trips and in areas with limited or missing road infrastructure".
In regard to safety, the Flying Car has a parachute to help it glide back down to earth should it suffer an engine failure or run out of fuel, and there are airbags to protect its two occupants from accidents both on the road and in the air.
"This launch is a triumph of engineering and design, requiring all our creativity, imagination, passion and technical expertise to deliver an innovative product that is truly ground-breaking," said Douglas MacAndrew, chief technology officer at AeroMobil. "MacAndrew added: "Everyone in this sector must overcome complex technical challenges in the process of developing a flying vehicle. We believe the vehicle presented today successfully resolves these challenges demonstrating a product that does not compromise either air or road function."
But AeroMobil isn't the only player in the flying car industry. Earlier in 2017, PAL-V International began taking orders for its own answer to congested roads. More of a helicopter than a plane, the company's two-seat vehicle costs £255,000 but can reach just 112mph in the air, half that of the AeroMobil.
A potential customer for vehicles like these could be Uber, the ride-sharing company which, in late 2016, announced Elevate, a division set up to develop flying cars. Uber sees a future where autonomous flying machines capable of traveling at 150mph carry passengers up to 100 miles at a time, and are requested via a smartphone app like Uber taxis are today.
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