eVTOLs or Flying Cars: A Dream becoming reality?

What are eVTOLs?

VTOL stands for Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft. Every Helicopter is a VTOL. The “e” in eVTOL stands for electric.

Why is there such a hype about eVTOLs?

Through the fast development of batteries, electric motors and drones, multiple companies started to develop eVTOLs in the past decade. The promise: they will enable Urban Air Mobility (=UAM).
In this scenario, cities will be populated by lots of eVTOLs, making transport faster, seamless and more exclusive. The term “Air Taxi” is often used.

What distance can these eVTOLs fly?

Without recharging, an eVTOL can fly up to 300 km. The range is limited by the battery. However, as batteries are intensively researched due to the transition towards Electric Vehicles, the distance is likely to increase (see our articles about batteries).

How much money was invested in these companies?

The hype was fueled by the investment of more than $10 billion in equity. Most notably, the wave of SPAC (=Special-purpose acquisition company) offerings at US Stock Exchanges generated a lot of buzz around eVTOL companies.

What is the expected market size ?

Morgan Stanley forecasts a market size of $1 trillion by 2040 in 2021. This figure was downgraded from previously $1.5 trillion. 90% of the market is transport and (shared) mobility.

What is the vision of eVTOL companies?

eVTOL companies want to reduce travel time by far. By making air transport accessible, users could skip traffic jams, use the direct route via air and move way faster. The most common use example is the distance between John F. Kennedy International Airport and downtown New York. The net traveling time could reduce from 45 Minutes to 7-10 minutes.

What obstacles hinder eVTOLs from mainstream success?

  • Certification: In order to be allowed to fly with a vehicle, it must be certified. Certification is a multi-year long process, carried out with national certifications (FAA in the US, EASA for Europe). This process is costly and complex, with estimates going as high as one billion dollars. The earliest completed certification is awaited in late 2024.
  • Infrastructure: While infrastructures for all vehicles in this world have been growing over the past 100 years – airports, streets, modern ports – the infrastructure for eVTOLs has to be built from zero. They usually need airfields to land and to charge, often called “Veli-Ports”. This need both space in urban areas and massive investments. The same applies for a system to coordinate the new air traffic.
  • Pilots: As a large number of eVTOLs will be deployed (normally less than 10 seats), a gigantic number of new pilots will be needed.

What are flying cars?

A flying car describes a vehicle that both has the ability to fly and to drive on roads. The first protypes have been developed in the 1950s
The most notable company is KleinVision. Its founder, Stefan Klein, has worked 30 years on developing the perfect flying car. In 2021, its AirCar completed its first inter-city flight. In 2022, it received the certification for Airworthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority. The range of the car is 1000 km.

What are the advantages of flying cars compared to eVTOLs?

  • Certification: Flying Cars are expected to be certificated as regular planes.
  • Infrastructure: Instead of so-called “Veli-Ports”, flying cars use roads and airports. As there is a high spread of local airfields around the world, flying cars have a massive access for existing infrastructure. Alone in Europe, there are more than 2000 airports (with paved and unpaved runaway).
  • Pilots: Every pilot should be able to fly a flying car without a new certification.
  • Use-Case: While eVTOL company target urban areas, AirCar aims for distances less than 1000 km, competing with light planes. By combining car and plane, one does not have to change the vehicle before flying.
KleinVision AirCar - alternative for eVTOL
The AirCar by KleinVision during its test flight

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