Alef Aeronautics unveiled a prototype of its first Alef flying car, a $300,000 machine the company hopes will let well-heeled commuters both drive on roads and soar over traffic starting in 2025.
The Alef Model A is designed to have a driving range of 200 miles and a flying range of 110 miles. The startup also started taking orders at its website for the first models.
The company showed a single passenger prototype of the Alef Model A and two flying prototypes called Alef Zero at a press conference at Draper University in San Mateo, California, home to one of the company’s two Silicon Valley design centers. The Model A will be fitted with the eight propellers that should let it first fly in the coming months, Chief Executive Jim Dukhovny said in an interview, and ultimately could lead to a $35,000 Model Z in 2030 that requires only a drone license to operate.
The company is among a host of aeronautics firms hoping to revolutionize transportation with electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and autonomous piloting technology. But the engineering challenges are big, and the regulatory challenges are perhaps even bigger as citizens, the Federal Aviation Administration and local governments wrestle with the idea of a sky populated by hundreds of personal aircraft and maybe delivery drones too.
The Alef flying car will revolutionize transportation, Dukhovny said, pointing to flying cars in the Back to the Future and Bladerunner movies and the Jetsons cartoon. A video running during the event showed an animation with dozens of flying cars streaming in aerial lanes above San Francisco.