It’s “orange barrel season” in Michigan and many other parts of the country, and construction only complicates the typical American’s daily commute, congestion costing the average motorist more than 50 hours annually. But a Silicon Valley startup may have the solution, a flying car that could let you literally “hop” over traffic.
A prototype flying car called the Alef is making its debut at the 2023 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the founder of the company says he expects to have it in production by 2025, at least if federal authorities go along.
“For 100 years, we’ve heard about (flying cars), but nobody has delivered,” said Jim Dukhovny, Alef’s founder and CEO.
Some issues to overcome
Part of the problem has been that “You cannot break the laws of physics,” Dukhovny said during a media presentation at Detroit’s Huntington Place convention center. Until now, most flying car concepts, like the “Flying Flivver” developed by Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford, were really just automobiles with wings attached. That limited where and how they could operate. More recent drone-like concepts have issues of their own.
From a distance, the battery-powered Alef not only has no apparent wings but features a sleek, sports car-like body. A closer inspection reveals that to be a mesh made up mostly of carbon-fiber slats.
Get even closer and you’ll discover there are eight propellers underneath, powered by four separate electric motors. On the ground, the motors do double-duty, driving the wheels.
Energy comes from a lithium-ion battery pack which, Dukhovny explained in a follow-up interview, can yield about 100 miles range in the air, 200 on the ground. Longer-term, he’d like to extend those numbers as battery technology improves.