The race to sell the first flying car of the 21st century may be won by a motorcycle.
A modern take on the type of flying machine used by James Bond in the film “You Only Live Twice,” the PAL-V – for Personal Air and Land Vehicle – takes its usefulness to the next level.
Thanks to a hydraulic suspension system, the vehicle is able to lean into turns on the road, making it stable to drive quickly, despite its high center of gravity.
According to its creators, the 230 hp vehicle can reach a top speed of 112 mph on land or in the air.
It takes just 10 minutes to be converted between modes, and features a small rear-mounted propeller along with its fold-up main rotor.
It doesn’t take off vertically like a helicopter, but requires a short, 540-foot runway and is intended to fly at altitudes below 4,000 feet under visual flight rules (VFR,) which requires only the equivalent of a sport pilot license to operate in most countries. It can stay airborne at speeds as low as 31 mph.
But its three-wheel design is what gives it the upper hand against proposed ‘flying cars’ like the long-delayed Terrafugia Transition, because it only needs to meet motorcycle regulations for road use, which don’t require the same extensive crash testing and costly safety equipment as automobiles.
Orders are currently only being taken in the Netherlands, but the company tells BBC Autos that it expects to expand internationally this fall, at a price of about $395,000.