At CES 2023 in Las Vegas, California-based startup ASKA unveiled a fully functional prototype of the ASKA A5, the world’s first four-seater electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. The size of an SUV, the A5 is capable of driving on roads and flying up to a distance of 250 miles on a single charge. ASKA plans to release the A5 for both road and air use in 2026.
The A5 combines elements of automotive and aviation design. It has large wings with six rotors that fold back in drive mode and is powered by a proprietary power system featuring lithium-ion battery packs and a gasoline engine as a range extender. In drive mode, the A5 utilizes in-wheel motor technology to place all four wheels outside the fuselage for improved aerodynamics and maximum interior space for passengers. In flying mode, the wings with rotors unfold, allowing for vertical takeoff or conventional runway takeoff. The A5 can take off and land in a vertical manner like a helicopter, or use a conventional runway for takeoff and landing, which can improve energy efficiency.
The A5 requires only a small space for vertical takeoff and landing and can fit in regular parking spaces. It can be charged at home or at EV charging stations, and the range extender engine runs on premium gasoline from regular gas stations. The dual power system also serves as a safety feature, providing a minimum of 30 minutes of reserve flight time, a requirement set by the Federal Aviation Administration. The A5 also includes a ballistic parachute for emergency situations.
The A5 is available for pre-order and ASKA is developing an affordable on-demand ride-sharing service using the eVTOL vehicles. The service, which aims to be available in major cities and surrounding areas by 2026, will have certified pilots pick up ride-share customers at their homes and fly them to their destinations. The company will work towards obtaining certification from the FAA, with full-scale flight testing set to begin after CES.