New AeroMobil flying car gearing up for 2020

Heavily updated AeroMobil ‘4.0’ is now safer, faster and fully certified for road and air use – can be pre-ordered for around £1m

Remember the AeroMobil flying car? It’s one of a number of concepts capable of taking to the road and the skies over the last few years, and now the Slovakian company has revealed a heavily updated version at the Monaco Top Marques show.

A third-generation prototype first launched to great fanfare back in October 2014. Things took a turn in May 2015, though, when the test model crashed in Slovakia and was heavily damaged. But after two years of hard graft a redeveloped version is back, available to pre-order now and set for customer deliveries in 2020.

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The AeroMobil has now received a raft of mechanical tweaks, including a carbon fibre monocoque that serves as a crash protective tub and a fully folding rear propeller. The wings fold flat onto the roof, though this isn’t a car that you can take to the skies in anywhere – it takes three minutes to put the wings into place for flight and you'll need a runway to take off.  However, it is the first AeroMobil concept that fully meets European and US safety regulations, both on the road and in the air.

The old Rotax aircraft engine has been ditched for a 2.0-litre four cylinder ‘Boxer’ engine producing around 300bhp. Cleverly, the motor can act as a generator to power electric motors in the front wheel, providing the propulsion for road use. It’s capable of up to 100mph on the road and over 220mph in the air, while the flying range is around 466 miles.

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Safety is paramount in the fourth generation model, too, with ballistic parachutes for passengers, airbags and even a parachute for the car to ensure it’s pointing in the safest possible direction for an emergency landing. The AeroMobil is unlikely to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but when speaking to Auto Express head of vehicle engineering Simon Rooms claimed it "meets every necessary safety regulation for aviation and road".

Rooms also highlighted the reasons why the project had to move forward quickly. "In the last 18 months the influence of companies like Uber and Amazon investing in autonomy [for road and air transport] has dramatically increased interest and confidence in the idea of a production flying car". 

Aeromobil is also investing in driverless technology, according to Rooms. "Our five year goal, for version 5.0 and beyond of the car, is to offer a suite of autonomy for the road and potentially autopilot for the air".

Unsurprisingly, the biggest catch for all this future-thinking ambition is the price: the AeroMobil is estimated to start at around $1.3m (£1m), although Rooms claims that improvements in the tech and a return on the firm's investment could make future models "more attainable". There's production capacity for around 50 to be built each year in Bratislava, with the potential to ramp that up if the demand is there.

Is this how you imagined a production flying car would look? Let us know in the comments below... 

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