This is the latest auto-aero innovation from Moller, the minds that brought you the much-hyped but never built SkyCar. This time they’re sexing it up a notch — their new Autovolantor is a road/air hybrid that’s built in the shell of a Ferrari 599 GTB. Yup, a flying sports car.
Moller’s two-passenger flying Ferrari, if it comes to fruition, will have a range of 75 miles airborne and 150 miles on the ground, 40 of those coming exclusively from battery power.
The Autovolantor will have a total payload of 375 pounds and carry 16.5 gallons of fuel. Essentially, it will function as a plug-in hybrid until it gets stuck in traffic, at which point it could lift vertically off the ground and fly at up to 150 miles per hour.
What’s the inspiration behind the Autovolantor? Is it the culmination of a longtime dream to combine a super-exotic sports car with the thrill of flight? Not quite. “We had a Russian billionaire come to us complaining that he was sick of sitting in Moscow traffic,” the company’s founder Paul Moller told Wired.com. “He gave us money, and told us to build a car that flies.”
That part makes sense, but doesn’t explain why Moller chose a $300,000 Ferrari rather than, say, a Ford Focus. It came down to practicalities. “We must have tested 100 different cars,” Moller explains. “But the Ferrari’s long hood was really the best choice when it came time to make room for the fans.”
They’re the same fans that power Moller’s ambitious SkyCar prototype. That craft, billed as a vertical takeoff & landing vehicle (VTOL), could hover up to 10 feet off the ground using ducted fans to provide lift and propulsion without exposed motor blades. “Really, we’re just taking the SkyCar and morphing it into a different shape,” Moller says of the Autovolantor. “That’s why we were able to get the design done in about five months.”
Wind tunnel and stability analysis tests have been successfully completed on the Autovolantor, and Moller says that if his Russian oligarch investor decides to continue funding the project (though, considering the state of the Russian stock market, he may not), it won’t take all that long before actually vehicle testing begins.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for a dealership to open up on your local Auto Mile. Moller says that even if demand were there, the Department of Transportation would never give the car a thumbs up. “It would be an interesting process to see if we could make it satisfy the DOT,” Moller says.
For now, it looks like if there’s a market for the Autovolantor, it’s Russia. “You have to assume there are other millionaires there sitting in traffic,” Moller says. “Maybe some of them would want one.”
Images: Moller, via: wired.com