Flying Car Market Revs Up with Addition of Two New Players

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May 1, 2017

The latest entry in the flying car sweepstakes is Kitty Hawk, a California startup bankrolled by Google co-founder Larry Page. The Flyer, a single-seater, propeller-powered one-person vehicle, will be available this year, the company said.

Operators won't need a pilot's license because the vehicle resembles a set of jet skis more than an airplane. However, the vehicle does go airborne and has been approved by the Federal Aviation Authority for transport in nonpopulated areas.

The company said that the vehicle, which runs solely on electricity, will be available for customers who also join the company's membership program. The joining fee is $100 and grants the bearer three years' worth of access to purchase whatever vehicles the company puts out. Other ultralight vehicles are in the works, the company said. The membership also grants the bearer a discount of $2,000 off the eventual purchase of the Flyer. The company has not set a price for sale.

Also in the mix is another new entry, AeroMobil. The Slovakia-based company has started taking orders for its eponymous vehicle, which is a car-plane hybrid that is scheduled for first sales in 2020.

The AeroMobil looks like a car with a plane on top. The hybrid can get up to 99 mph as a car and up to 224 mph in the air. The wings fold up when the vehicle is on the ground, then expand for flight. A gasoline-electricity hybrid engine powers the vehicle, which can fly up to 435 miles before having to refuel. Operators can find a parachute onboard, as well as built-in airbags for both pilot and passengers. The company has announced a purchase price: $1.3 million.

One of the forefunners in the market is Terrafugia, a U.S.-based company that also sports a foldable-wing car. Terrafugia has been around for more than a decade now and has unveiled several high-profile prototypes. The latest model, the Transition, will be able to fly up to 500 miles in a trip. The company expects to have their latest model ready for public consumption in 2023.

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