Why You’ll Need Big Bucks to Buy a Flying Car

Click to soar

Key Takeaways

  • A new flying car prototype recently flew between two European cities.
  • A recent study found that the cost of owning a flying car could top $700,000.
  • Industry experts expect flying cars to be commercially available by the end of the decade.
Stefan Klein's AirCar parked

AirCar / Klein Vision

Flying cars are getting closer to reality, but they will cost more than your average SUV. 

Start saving now because an AirCar, which can drive on roads while also being able to fly, recently completed a 35-minute test flight. A new study found that the cost of a flying car will come in at over $700,000. 

“Individual, middle-class people may not be able to afford to buy a flying car in the near future or until as early as 2050,” Seongkyu Lee, a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of California, Davis, told Lifewire in an email interview. “However, I anticipate that people will start to use a flying taxi around 2030 on a small scale.”

Meet the Jetsons’ AirCar

One of the latest entrants in the long-running race to field a flying automobile is the AirCar. On June 28, it flew between cities in Slovakia. 

After landing, a click of a button transformed the aircraft into a sports car, and it was driven by its inventor, Stefan Klein, and co-founder, Anton Zajac, to downtown Bratislava. The company claims the invention will cut the typical travel time between the cities by a factor of two.

“This flight starts a new era of dual transportation vehicles,” Klein said in a news release. “It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual.” 

Lee said about 300 companies are competing to make flying cars something you can actually buy and fly home with. A hot new area is electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft powered by batteries.

Cars that fly could reduce traffic congestion in cities, Lee said, and they could reduce commuting time. Furthermore, flying cars under development that use electrically driven propellers are more environmentally friendly than gas guzzlers.

“Flying cars will advance aerospace engineering technology,” said Lee. “They can also boost our economy and prosperity, propel market-driven innovation, jump-start economic growth, and generate more high-tech jobs in communities.”

What Took So Long?

For anyone who grew up watching or reading science fiction, flying cars have long been a distant dream. In 1917, aircraft designer Glenn Curtiss built an Autoplane that had a propeller for flight, with removable flight surfaces, including a triplane wing. The Autoplane was able to hop, but not fly.

Things are looking up for anyone who wants to drive and fly to work. Flying cars will be available in cities worldwide by the end of the decade, Michael Cole, chief executive for European operations at South Korean automaker Hyundai, told a conference recently. 

Professor Stefan Klein and Anton Zajac next to the AirCar

AirCar / Klein Vision

“If you'd asked me a few years ago were flying cars something that I would see in my lifetime, I wouldn't have believed it," he said. "But it's part of our future solution of offering innovative, smart mobility solutions."

But the future may be expensive. UK company Pentagon Motor Group recently estimated that early flying cars would cost approximately £535,831 (more than $700,000, according to a current exchange rate) when considering the car itself and factors such as insurance, parking, and fuel.

“With the cost of getting your hands on a flying car (and actually being licensed to drive it) coming in at such a high cost, it seems that at least on launch, these airborne automobiles will be reserved to a select few and that a worldwide flying car revolution might be a long way off yet,” the company wrote on its website.

"Individual, middle-class people may not be able to afford to buy a flying car in the near future or until as early as 2050."

Lee said other issues holding back flying cars are the ability to conduct autonomous flight, its battery, and noise. 

“Unless fully autonomous flight capabilities are employed, it would be difficult to bring down the operating costs to the level that average people can use a flying taxi,” he added. “In addition, noise should be significantly reduced in order to make this new transportation vehicle fly over our neighborhood. The public acceptance of flying cars is the key to success.”

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