Alef Aeronautics has accomplished a significant breakthrough in the realm of transportation. On Tuesday, the company announced that its flying car, known as “Model A,” has become the first of its kind to receive official approval for both road and air travel from the US government.
Inspired by the iconic sci-fi movie “Back to the Future” and the futuristic year depicted in it (2015), the concept of Alef's flying car took shape. In 2016, the company constructed its initial subscale prototype, designed to meet specific criteria: functioning as a conventional car, enabling vertical takeoff capabilities, and remaining relatively affordable.
Alef's scaled version of the flying car, equipped with the company's proprietary electric propulsion system, caught the attention of renowned venture capitalist and early Tesla investor, Tim Draper. Recognizing the groundbreaking potential of the technology, Draper Associates Fund V injected $3 million in seed funding, propelling the program forward. Last October, Alef introduced the world to the “Model A,” the first electric flying car capable of street driving and vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL).
The “Model A” boasts an impressive driving range of 200 miles, complemented by a flight range of 110 miles. Alef opened presales in October, offering interested customers the opportunity to reserve their own Model A for $300,000, with options for a $150 regular queue deposit or a $1,500 priority queue deposit. By the end of the year, Alef had already amassed over 440 reservations, reflecting the high level of interest and anticipation surrounding this groundbreaking vehicle.
Alef's achievement in obtaining a Special Airworthiness Certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration distinguishes the Model A as the first vehicle of its kind to receive such recognition. Expressing his excitement about this remarkable feat, Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny stated, “We're thrilled to have received this certification from the FAA. It brings us closer to providing people with an eco-friendly and time-saving commuting option, allowing individuals and companies to reclaim hours each week. This is a significant milestone for the aviation industry, paving the way for transformative progress in the automotive sector.”
Since 2019, Alef has been rigorously testing full-scale prototypes through extensive driving and flying trials. Production of the Model A is scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of 2025, with deliveries set to follow shortly thereafter, marking a pivotal moment in the realization of Alef's vision.
Excitingly, Alef is not stopping at the Model A. The company is actively developing other models, including the four-person sedan, “Model Z,” which is slated to debut in 2035. With an enticing starting price of $35,000, the Model Z is projected to possess a flying range exceeding 300 miles, coupled with a driving range surpassing 220 miles.
While Alef blazes a trail in this pioneering field, numerous other automakers and startups are also diligently working towards bringing “flying cars” or eVTOLs to market. Among them is XPeng, an electric vehicle startup that obtained flight permission for its crewed eVTOL, the Aero HT, earlier this year in China. The collective efforts of these ambitious companies herald a future where airborne transportation becomes a reality, revolutionizing the way we travel and navigate our urban environments.