The latest in a long line of disappointing attempts at making a flying car lands at the Geneva Motor Show, costs a boatload of greenbacks and currently lacks FAA certification.
Anytime someone wheels out a new “flying car” I can’t help but let out a sigh. These machines are always hideous and of questionable functionality. Dutch company Pal-V thinks it can change that with its Liberty flying car. I’m remaining skeptical but based on what we’re seeing in Geneva, it doesn’t appear to be vaporware which is a refreshing change.
At first glance, the Liberty looks like someone got hammered-drunk, took design aspects from the, the and some rejected “Speed Racer” designs, and then stuck helicopter blades on top of it. The only thing about it that says “car” to me is the fact that it has wheels. With the whirly bits unfolded, it could more or less pass as a helicopter, which is sort of cool.
The Pal-V Liberty looks equally sketchy on the road and in the air.
However, it’s not a helicopter. It’s in fact an autogyro, a type of aircraft first built and flown in the early 1920s. The benefit for Pal-V is that an autogyro is decidedly less complicated to build and fly than a helicopter and much cheaper to produce and run. The downside is that autogyros generally can’t take off vertically, so you’d need a decent run-up before lifting off, the way you would in a fixed-wing aircraft.
One thing that the Liberty does have going for it is the fact that it’s compact. With all its flying gubbins folded up and stowed, it will fit in a standard parking space and it’s about as long as a full-size truck. It will also run on premium gasoline, so there’s no need for exotic fuels. It’ll supposedly achieve 31 miles per gallon in car mode and will go through 6.9 gallons in an hour while flying. It has a tank capacity of just over 26 gallons, which works out to 4.3 hours of flight time with a 30-minute reserve.
Pal-V says the Liberty will hit around 60 miles per hour on the road thanks to its 100 horsepower engine, while its recommended flying cruise speed is 86 mph to get maximum range. It’ll do 112 mph flat-out. You’re not going to set the world on fire with the Liberty; prepare to get your doors blown off by old Cessnas and Pipers. The Liberty has a maximum altitude of 11,480 feet.
“Pfft, Gulfstreams are for nerds. I’m taking my Dutch autogyro to the beach rave in Goa!”
How much would you be expected to pay to dominate neither the road nor the sky? Well, if you just sold your app and you’re high on “raw water,” you can opt for the $599,000 Pal-V Liberty Pioneer version. If you’re not balling quite so hard, you can slot yourself into a more plebeian Sport version at just $399,000. Keep in mind though, these pricing figures aren’t set in stone; Pal-V is careful about calling them “expected prices” and that has me wondering how much they could fluctuate.