PAL-V Liberty, The World’s First Road- And Air-Legal Car, Is Headed To The Geneva Motor Show
Will it soar above all the rest, or fail to get off the ground?by Jonathan Lopez, on
Like jet packs or robotic butlers, real flying cars seem perpetually just over the horizon. Now, however, Dutch firm PAL-V says it cracked the code, and will show it’s new road-legal flying car at the biggest auto show of the year.
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AL-V is calling it the Liberty, and rather than sprouting wings like a plane, it's got a set of blades like a helicopter. It's technically a “gyrocopter” aircraft, with a thrust engine in the rear and unpowered rotors up top.
PAL-V International B.V. was founded way back in 2001 with the intention of creating a road-worthy aircraft. Seventeen years later, the firm looks ready to step into the limelight in a big way with a debut at the Geneva International Motor Show, the stage to gain worldwide attention in the auto industry.
We saw a proof of concept in 2008 and learned about flight tests in 2011, but the latest looks like it’s pretty much production-ready. PAL-V is calling it the Liberty, and rather than sprouting wings like a plane, it’s got a set of blades like a helicopter. It’s technically a “gyrocopter” aircraft, with a thrust engine in the rear and unpowered rotors up top (they spin using air power alone to create lift). The design means you still need a good deal of space to take off, without the option for vertical lift-off. Two people can fit in the cockpit, but only one is required to fly the machine.
PAL-V says the Liberty complies with all the necessary regulations, both in the U.S. and in the U.K. Motivation is derived from a series of Rotax aircraft engines. Output tops out at 99 horsepower while in road mode, and 197 horsepower while going airborne.
The transformation between flying mode to driving mode is a bit of a hands-on affair, requiring pilots to pull out the tail, unfold the rotor blades, and take out the prop to prepare the vehicle for flight, all of which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete, according to PAL-V. Meanwhile, the rotor mast will unfold automatically.
On the black stuff, the Liberty will top out at 100 mph, with the 0-to-60 mph sprint done in about 9 seconds. In flight mode, the Liberty can climb to 3,500 meters (10,500 feet) and reach a top speed of 112 mph.
On the black stuff, the Liberty will top out at 100 mph, with the 0-to-60 mph sprint done in about 9 seconds. It’ll also return upwards of 31 mpg, giving it an impressive 817-mile range. The vehicle drives as a three-wheeler, leaning hard into corners to remain as stable as possible with the rotor gear up top. It looks like fun, to be honest.
In flight mode, the Liberty can climb to 3,500 meters (10,500 feet) and reach a top speed of 112 mph. It’ll also do 310 miles before requiring a fill-up
|Mass Empty:||1.413 lbs|
|Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW):||2,006 lbs|
|Fuel type:||Premium or Super Unleaded gasoline**|
|Fuel capacity:||26.4 gallon|
|Dimensions Drive-mode:||13.1f L x 6.6f W x 5.4f H|
|Dimensions Flight-mode:||20.1f L x 6.6f W x 10.5f H (Rotor diameter is 35.3f)|
|Maximum baggage load:||44 lbs|
|Max Speed:||100 mph|
|Top speed acceleration (0-62 mph):||<9 seconds|
|Engine power:||100 hp|
|Economic cruise speed:||87 mph|
|High cruise speed (90% range):||100 mph|
|Maximum speed:||112 mph|
|Min speed for level flight:||31 mph|
|Engine power:||200 hp|
|Maximum operating altitude:||11,480 feet|
|Useful load:||542 lbs|
|Take-off roll (MTOW, MSL):||590 feet|
|Take-off distance (+ 15m obstacle clearance) (MTOW***, MSL****):||1,082 feet|
|Landing roll distance:||98 feet|
|Fuel economy:||6.9 gallons/hour|
|Max Range (with ½ hour reserve fuel*, MTOW):||248 mi|
|Max Range (with ½ hour reserve fuel, single person operation, MSL):||310 mi|
|Max endurance (with ½ hour reserve fuel, MTOW):||4.3 hours|
You can check out the full specs here.
The Liberty requires a pilot’s license to legally put it in the air (not to mention a driver’s license to run it on the street), and because there’s no vertical lift-off, don’t expect to take the taller lane option while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Indeed, putting this vehicle’s full capability to good use will require a bit more planning than that.
Look for more info when the PAL-V Liberty drops (er, maybe debuts is the more appropriate word here) at the Geneva International Motor Show next month. Deliveries are expected for next year, after PAL-V completes the final testing and certification required to release the actual production model.
Deliveries are expected for next year, after PAL-V completes the final testing and certification required to release the actual production model.
Pricing starts at 280,000 pounds (a little under $400,000 at current exchange rates), while the limited launch edition will be $599,000 (the price includes flight instructions and extras like a heater and other optional equipment). Reservations start at around 2,000 pounds (a little under $2,825 at current exchange rates). Production numbers for this first batch will be limited to 90 units, half of which will be sold in Europe (yep, PAL-V will also sell it here in the U.S.). Once the initial batch is sold, PAL-V has plans for a leaner and meaner Sport model for slightly less outlay ($399,000), which also includes flight lessons and carbon fiber details.
Perhaps now is the time for the flying car. It is 2018 after all, and considering the supercar market is practically spilling over in options, a high-dollar toy like a flying car seems like a perfectly reasonable next step. After all, once the multitude of millionaires out there get their fill on the ground, where to next? The sky makes a lot of sense...
Read more Geneva Motor Show news.