Flying cars look like becoming the next fashion. It seems to be heading down that path, what with more joining the bandwagon. Airbus and Uber have signalled their intent to explore the route, and carmakers have also begun looking at this new form of hybridisation – earlier in the year, Toyota placed an investment in Cartivator and Geely acquired start-up company Terrafugia.
There are also individual manufacturers, notably Slovakian company AeroMobil – its flying car design shown earlier this year will do 160 km/h with a range of around 700 km on the ground, or 750 km in the air with a maximum speed of 360 km/h. Now, here’s another, from an American concern called Samson Motors.
Its offering is called the Switchblade, and it’s a two-seater, three-wheeled machine powered by a 190 hp 1.6 litre V4 engine. In flight mode, this drives a propeller at the rear, with extendable wings and tail performance specs deployed and stored in pocketknife fashion (hence the name).
In a flight configuration, the Switchblade measures in at 6.3 metres long and 8.2 metres wide, while retracting the tail and folding in the wings for on-ground operation brings the vehicle’s footprint down to 5.1 metres long and 1.8 metres wide. On the road, a five-speed transmission is utilised to drive the wheels.
Performance figures include a maximum airspeed of 305 km/h and a 724 km operating range, with a maximum ground speed of more than 200 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time of around 6.5 seconds. Mod cons include air-conditioning, adjustable leather seats and even a premium sound system, while safety kit includes road-going roll-over protection and a vehicle parachute, in case something unthinkable happens in the air.
According to Robb Report, the Samson Switchblade is set to make its first public flight next year, and Samson Motors says it plans to begin first deliveries to customers by end-2018. The Switchblade is expected to retail for US$120,000 (RM490,000), but there’s a caveat (aside from having to have a private pilot’s licence, that is) – buyers will have to assemble it themselves. For an extra US$20,000 (RM81,700), Samson’s building assist programme eases that effort.