Dr. Paul Moller has held onto his dream of achieving a workable combination of ground and air transport for decades, but has yet to produce any practical real-world drive-and-fly vehicles. The latest concept to come from his company, Moller International, is the Autovolantor, a hybrid-powered flying car designed in the image of the Ferrari 599 GTB, but so far only built as a tiny scale model.
It's designed to lift off vertically and escape the traffic snarl below as it takes to the skies - an idea sure to capture the hearts of commuters everywhere, but far from reality at this stage. The project's design goals are similarly lofty: to create an aesthetically pleasing two-passenger vehicle with a ground-range of 150mi (240km), 40mi (64km) of which must be powered by batteries alone, plus an air-range of 75mi (120km). The vehicle is also designed to be easily flown by amateurs, and so requires advanced computer-controlled hover stabilization among other aids.
Other similar projects from Moller have included the SkyCar and the M200G flying-saucer-style vehicle. While all share the goal of combining affordable personal flying transport, they also share equal measures of impracticality and fantasy in their design. Call us skeptics, but we'll believe it when our neighbor comes home from work in one.
The Autovolantor car/plane also features a hybrid powertrain design similar to that of the Volt, wherein the eight rotary engines that provide power in flight mode work to recharge the batteries for the car when on the ground. The Autovolantor is still only a model, however, reflecting the realities of developing such a complex system on a shoestring budget - even General Motors hasn't worked out all the final production kinks in its Volt powertrain, and that's not even intended to fly.
Despite the hybrid drive and electric-only capability, the fuel consumption of the vehicle in combined flight and ground transport isn't what most would consider 'hybrid-like'. For a 225mi (360km) trip, with 75mi (120km) in the air and 150mi (240km) on the ground, the car averages 15.3mpg (15.4L/100km). Shorten the flight to just 10mi (16km) plus 150mi on the ground and the average improves to just 22.1mpg (10.6L/100km).