This year’s North American International Auto Show includes displays of flying cars offering a glimpse of a long-awaited automotive future where earthbound traffic is left behind.
Two air mobility innovators will be at Huntington Place in Detroit. The show runs through Sept. 24.
The product displays include two electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles at a time when the Federal Aviation Admin. is beginning to address the safety and air-traffic issues around the future use of flying cars.
The FAA has certified for testing a vehicle from Alef of Santa Clara, CA, which can both fly and be driven on roads. The vehicle from Alef, which was founded in 2015, is the first air taxi to receive FAA certification.
Alef says its Model A (pictured, below), which carries two occupants, is the first flying vehicle that is drivable on public roads and able to park like a normal car. It has a road range of 200 miles (322 km) and a flying range of 110 miles (177 km) and is designed to fit within the existing urban infrastructure for driving and parking.
The Alef vehicle, which takes off vertically when needed and flies above the traffic fits in a regular-sized driving lane, parking space and garage, will be on display on the main show floor throughout the run of the show.
The Model A features Distributed Electric Propulsion, triple to octuple redundancy of all key components, obstacle detection and avoidance, glide landing and full-vehicle ballistic parachute. It also incorporates the latest hardware and software technology advances, ultralight and ultra-strong components, and software simulators and analysis.
The vehicle has been undergoing flight testing and is expected to begin production and deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2025.
Alef is backed by investors and aviation and automotive industry veterans led by Tim Draper, who, among others, was one of the first venture capitalists to invest in Tesla; Anthony Tether, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Ford Aerospace; and Jaguar designer Hirash Razaghi.
AIR, from Pardes Hana, Israel, returns to NAIAS for the second year with AIR ONE after conducting several test flights of the aircraft and accruing flight hours that “have proven the validity of the design,” reports the company.
The electric two-seat VTOL, designed for consumer ownership and an everyday alternative for short-distance commuting in the sky, will be on display on the main show floor through Sept. 23.
Show-goers will get the chance to experience what it’s like to “fly” in the cockpit of AIR ONE by way of a virtual-reality simulator utilizing the same software pilots use to train.
The vehicle has collapsible wings for easy parking and the ability to take off from or land on any flat surface.
The market for flying cars and air taxis is difficult to determine because vehicle choices are still emerging. Also, the safety of flying cars is an untold story. That said, Marketsandmarkets.com, for one, estimates the global market growing from $74.2 million in 2023 to $920.5 million in 2030.
“Building upon the laser focus on electrification in vehicles and aircraft, it’s a natural progression for shows like ours to take a look at the expanding mobility ecosystem,” says NAIAS Chairman Thad Szott. “Our ‘Air Mobility Experience’ will again this year capture the imagination of visitors by showcasing the sky’s the limit in future mobility.”