Prototypes: US companies get the first test licenses for flying cars

Californian company Alef Automotive has come a step closer to its goal of putting cars in the air.

Prototypes: US companies get the first test licenses for flying cars

Californian company Alef Automotive has come a step closer to its goal of putting cars in the air. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued the company with a certificate of fitness to fly, which allows the limited use of its first flying car prototype. This means that it can now be used for exhibitions, research and development in the air before Alef intends to launch the vehicle on the market the year after next. An ambitious goal.

According to the manufacturer, the vehicle, called Model A, is powered fully electrically and should be able to travel not only on the ground but also in the air. In addition, it will therefore be able to climb vertically into the air and fly in all directions. The range should be around 180 kilometers in the air. Assistants, such as obstacle detection and avoidance and a parachute, are intended to ensure the safety of the maximum of two vehicle occupants.

At the same time, the Model A should be an ordinary vehicle for use on the road, even if it can drive at a maximum speed of 40 km/h. On the road, the all-wheel drive car should cover a good 320 kilometers with one battery charge. Vehicle data beyond this, for example on the motorization or the drive battery, are not yet known.

Alef, founded as a start-up in 2015, wants to create a solution for commuters with the flying car. It is intended to reduce traffic jams in inner cities by flying over them. The concept sounds futuristic, but according to the FAA, other manufacturers have already received approval for flying cars. It is "not the first aircraft of its kind". In fact, numerous other companies are working on the development of such vehicles, such as the Chinese manufacturer Xpeng, the Australian manufacturer Alauda Aeronautics or the manufacturer Aska. The latter, who, like Alef, is based in California, has developed an SUV-sized vehicle with the A5 that has propellers on the roof that are to be extended for flight. The company recently received its first restricted flight approval from the FAA, it announced late last week. Previously, Aska presented its first fully functional prototype in January.

The Alef Model A, which, like many Tesla vehicles, bears the name "Model" with an additional letter, was presented in October 2022. The company has announced that test flights have been taking place since 2019. According to company plans, production and delivery of the flying car is scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2025. There's even a price. According to current information, this is around 300,000 US dollars. It costs $150 to be placed on the pre-order waitlist and $1500 to be placed on the priority waitlist.

However, you can't really use the Model A yet. On the one hand, the US traffic safety authority NHTSA still has to approve use on the road and on the other hand, the prototype has so far only received approval for test flights from the FAA. In fact, building flying cars poses major challenges for developers. When the four founders launched Alef in 2015, they believed they could develop such a vehicle within six months. The fact that about eight years have now passed and their first vehicle is not due to appear until the end of 2025 shows how difficult the development is. The fact that Alef has never built a production-ready car is likely to further complicate the process, along with technical and bureaucratic hurdles.

Meanwhile, the Californian manufacturer is also currently working on a four-seater sedan called the Model Z, which is said to fly over 480 miles and drive over 350 miles. According to the company, it should be on the market in 2035.

Sources: Alef Automotive, CNN, Aska