Flying cars: just how close are they to reality?

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Image: Samson Switchblade

Research from comparison and switching site Uswitch has revealed the flying cars closest to reality, our attitudes to the emerging tech and 5 designs which are coming soon…

1. A first-generation flying car could cost as little as £95,000

Although some may not look like the technology from sci-fi – shaped more like large drones than a hovering hatchback – there are still plenty that have the wheels and wings combo to satisfy purists. Many have even revealed estimated price points for when they’re available.

Model Seats Top Speed Range Estimated Cost
PAL-V Liberty 2 110 mph 300 miles £443,000
Moller Skycar 400 4 330 mph 800 miles £407,000
Aeromobil 4.0 2 220 mph 450 miles £325,000
Terrafugia TF-X 3 100 mph 500 miles £200,000
Samson Switchblade 2 200 mph 450 miles £95,000

While the prices may be a bit lower than you’d expect, especially the Samson Switchblade which comes in much cheaper than many ground-based sports models, only time will tell what the price of the car insurance on them will be.

2. Over 1 in 3 of flying car projects are already being flight-tested

When you see news articles about flying cars, they always seem to be just out of reach. That’s not to say that progress isn’t being made on them, with 38% of active flying car and eVTOL (electric powered vertical take off and landing) projects currently in the flight-testing stage. Of the 101 flying vehicles included in Uswitch’s research, five have reached the certification stage – waiting to see whether they’ll be permitted for personal and commercial use.

3. Taxis and deliveries will be main use for flying cars

According to a 2020 report from Ehang, a world-leader in autonomous aerial vehicles (AAVs) the most promising uses for the technology are:

  • Logistics & Shipping – £37 billion market size*
  • Smart City Management – £22 billion market size*
  • Passenger Transportation – £2.4 billion market size*
  • Aerial Media Solutions – £238 million market size*

*Projected 2023 market size

4. The flying car market will be worth £1.2 trillion globally by 2040

Household names like Uber, Hyundai, Audi, Toyota as well as British automotive icons like Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin are among those racing to be the first to get commercially viable flying cars into the market. Thanks to the huge success of consumer and commercial drones, there is a large appetite for aerial vehicles that can get people from A to B, deliver everything from the weekly shop to takeaways, and also help to make cities a greener place by easing congestion.

5. While people like the idea of flying cars, they are more cautious of the reality

A 2019 Deloitte study, which asked a global focus group of 10,000 their views on flying cars, found that 80% had fears about their safety. However, 50% of people in the same study viewed them as a viable solution to congestion in cities.

Image: HOVERSURF


5 Flying Cars that are already being tested

  • Astro Elroy – with a name that will conjure up instant nostalgia to any Jetsons fans, this small aircraft is designed for use in densely populated urban environments, perhaps making autonomous flying cars over our streets a reality sooner than you’d think.
  • LIFT Hexa – an all-electric single-passenger aircraft aimed at tourists and short-distance travel, this rotor heavy vehicle would make waiting in traffic on the way to your hotel a thing of the past. As it’s classed as a ‘powered ultralight’ by the FAA – it doesn’t even require a pilot’s license!
  • HOVERSURF – easily the most sci-fi looking of the five ambitious eVTOL projects at certification stage, this ‘hoverbike’ has drawn the interest of Dubai’s police force for use as a first response vehicle to access hard to reach areas.
  • AgustaWestland AW609 – this project was designed to transport VIPs like an exclusive aerial taxi. Its vertical take-off mirrors its smaller flying car (and hoverbike) counterparts. However to fulfil longer journeys it can tilt its rotors ahead like a more conventional aircraft.
  • PAL-V – created by a Dutch company determined to offer the first commercially available flying car, the PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) has a 2-person capacity and is able to travel on public roads when not soaring above them.

Key Findings

  • Uswitch found that you might not have to save up quite as much as you’d think for a flying car, with a low-end price tag of £95,000, the same price as a high-end Porsche
  • The global market for flying cars is projected to reach £1.2 trillion by 2040
  • Out of 101 active urban aviation projects investigated, 38% are already in the flight-testing stage whilst 5% are even further down the line and in the process of applying for commercial certification
  • Uber’s Elevate flying taxi will cost an estimated £4.24 per mile which means it would only cost 64p more per mile than an average London taxi
  • Although people are fascinated by flying cars, a 2019 global survey of 10,000 people found that 80% of people are concerned that they won’t be safe
  • Find out more: https://www.uswitch.com/guides/car-insurance/flying-cars/
Chris Price
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