A flying car might seem like something straight out of a retro science-fiction movie, but there are a lot of companies that are actively working to make it a reality. One of those companies is Alef Aeronautics, which recently debuted its Model A prototype at the Detroit Auto Show. In July, the electric vehicle was approved for flight testing by the Federal Aviation Administration and is currently for pre-sale.
While there was not a flight demonstration in Detroit, Alef did show off the car's sleek design. Model A is a drivable car that can take off vertically, allowing drivers to decide whether they want to take their journey on land or by air. A lightweight carbon-fiber mesh sits across the top of the vehicle, encasing its eight propellers and allowing for airflow. The underbody houses four wheels, each powered by its own motor.
These design choices make the Model A visually similar to a very modern sports car, which contrasts with the airplane look of the flying cars competitors are working on. Size-wise, it compares to an SUV, so it won't be a problem to park in a garage or parking space. These characteristics are deliberate choices for Alef Aeronautics, as the firm wanted to make a flying car that could fit into the existing urban infrastructure.
Alef's inaugural model has a driving range of 200 miles and a flight range of 110 miles. With a presale price tag of $300,000, the Model A is geared for wealthy tech enthusiasts who want to be early adopters. But the company is already looking at ways to drop the price tag with their second flying vehicle, a four-person sedan. This Model Z won't be introduced until 2035, but comes with a significant price drop. Alef is estimating a price of $35,000 for those who can hold out.
And waiting might not be a bad idea, as it's still unclear what type of certification one would need to lift off in the Model A. Alef founder and CEO Jim Dukhovny said that he could teach someone how to drive and fly the vehicle in “15 minutes or less,” and stated that “if you can tell the difference between the right, left, up, down, front and back, you can do this.” There is currently no standard license to operate something of this nature.
NASA is already thinking about a future where flying cars and drones occupy the skies. They've been actively working on a “highway in the sky” for some time, but legislation will still need to keep pace with technology. In the meantime, Alef Aeronautics will keep perfecting its prototype as it aims to deliver the first Model A flying vehicles to consumers during the last quarter of 2025.