PAL-V claims its Liberty is more than another flying-car mirage

PAL-V Liberty flying car

Dozens of companies have tried to produce working flying cars over the years, yet being able to commute to work by air still seems as impossible as commuting to Saturn. But Dutch company PAL-V claims its flying car is more than just vaporware.

The PAL-V Liberty will debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, and PAL-V expects to deliver the first vehicles to customers next year. The company claims the Liberty is ready for production, and just needs some certifications from regulators to begin deliveries.

While many flying cars try to combine the attributes of a road vehicle and an airplane, the Liberty is more like a cross between a car and a helicopter. It rolls on three wheels in road-going mode, and takes about 10 minutes to transform from car to aircraft. A 100-horsepower engine propels the Liberty to a top speed of 100 mph on the ground and 112 mph in the air, according to PAL-V. The company also estimates range at 284 miles on the ground and 310 miles in the air with a full tank and a single occupant. The Liberty can seat two, though.

PAL-V began development work on its flying car in 2009, and started taking reservations last year. Taking a page from various electric-car startups, PAL-V decided to make the first 90 units special “Pioneer” models, retailing for $600,000. The standard “Sport” model has a $400,000 base price. PAL-V asked customers to put down $25,000 or $10,000 nonrefundable deposits for the Pioneer and Sport, respectively, or a $2,500 refundable deposit for a spot on a waiting list.

PAL-V plans to begin the last step of the certification process immediately after the Geneva Motor Show. The company is confident that it will meet the requirements in time to deliver the first vehicles to customers in 2019. In the meantime, PAL-V is training customers to fly the Liberty at its own flying school.

While the engineering challenges remain significant, many companies big and small are showing interest in flying cars. Slovakian firm AeroMobil is taking reservations for its own flying car, and Google co-founder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk startup is trying to develop one as well. Toyota, Uber, Airbus, and Geely (the Chinese automaker that owns Volvo) are also developing their own flying cars, or backing flying-car startups. But corporate interest research projects are no guarantee of commercial viability, so don’t be surprised if these flying-car efforts never get off the ground.