We’re not holding our breath at this point. But the prospect of being able to push a button (or program in this functionality) and your car lifts above the gridlocked freeway, glides over the miles of vehicles barely inching along, and effortlessly flies you to your destination has a certain primordial appeal. Who hasn’t fantasized about such a thing?
But how real or how imminent is the prospect of a flying car? Is this something you’d plunk down, say, an extra $50,000 for? What about insurance? Would it be prohibitive? Maybe you’d have to be so rich that money is no barrier, or maybe flying cars would have to be so ubiquitous that it’s just another option for transportation.
As to the realities, here’s what we know – and, admittedly, it isn’t much.
Well, more specifically, the patent filed by Japanese automaker Toyota doesn’t read “flying car,” but for a unique and stackable wing system. The exact terminology in the Toyota patent filed in March 2014 and published in the United States Patent Application Publication September 3, 2015 is: “Stackable Wing for an Aerocar.” As anyone with any knowledge of aerodynamics and what’s required for taking flight knows, some sort of wing system would likely be necessary.
The patent application, in section No.0001 states: “The present disclosure pertains to a vehicle that can be flown as a fixed wing aircraft and driven as a land vehicle. More specifically, the present disclosure is directed to stackable wing architectures therefor[sic].”
This comes from the maker of the popular Camry family sedan, the highly-successful Prius and later variants, sleek and sporty sports cars, crossovers, SUVs, minivans and trucks. If anyone can create a flying car – and have it more or less mass produced – it surely might be Toyota.
Terrafugia T-FX – A Sexy Flying Car
With Terrafugia’s latest flying car concept, the T-FX, consumers dreaming of one day owning a car that can take to the air as well as pilot the road have at least a working vehicle to look at and wonder. This latest version is a craft that takes off vertically, as compared to the original Terrafugia flying car introduced (and actually flew a test flight in 2012) that had fold-out airplane wings.
The T-FX requires only a helicopter pad for launch and touchdown. It’s powered by a 300 horsepower engine that’s capable of delivering up to 200 mph and has a range of 500 miles. Although it looks really cool, the four-seat interior is rather cramped. We could see this more for short trips than anything of long duration.
Pricing, says the company, is likely to be in the range of a very high-end luxury car – whatever that means. For example, are we talking high-end as in Maserati or Bentley Bentayga or what? Well, you’ll have at least 8-12 years to save up your money, since Terrafugia says the T-FX will be in development for that amount of time.
This will also give consumers with a yen for a car that takes flight ample time to figure out a garage configuration that will accommodate it – and a heli-pad on the premises for those quick family excursions when flight by car is a more attractive option than waiting endless hours in traffic like the rest of us has to do.