Designer Greg Brown and engineer Dave Fawcett from Napa, California are currently developing a jet car that is totally badass. The vehicle, dubbed the GF7, is awesome not just because it looks like the Batmobile, but it is also able to fly as high and as fast as a commercial airliner. The duo hopes to have a functional prototype within the next few years.
Though it is purely just a concept right now, the GF7 will seat four and is designed to be equally suited on the ground and the sky. On land, it will use an electric motor to hit speeds of 100 mph (160 km/h). When it’s ready to take to the sky, the wings will fold down and the 3,500-lb thrust engine will propel it through the air at 550 mph (885 km/h), reaching heights of up to 39,000 ft (12,000 m) with its 23 ft (7 m) wingspan.
"The more we got into the systems the more we realized how complimentary they were," Brown told Gizmag in an interview. "You can save jet fuel by using the electric motor to drive to the runway and start the turbine engine when you need it. The high torque electric motors assist the jet to accelerate for take-off reducing take-off roll – it will be like an afterburner take-off. Four wheels braking with large road tires reduces stopping distance, and the ample battery power makes for an excellent backup to support environmental and avionics systems in the air. To top it off, the turbine engine produces plenty of extra electrical capacity to charge the batteries."
As far as price goes, current estimates are around US$3-5 million. Obviously, this won’t be cheap replacement for your car to take the kids to Grandma’s house. However, if flying cars are going to be ridiculously expensive anyway, why not go all the way? There are other cars out there, such as the Terrafugia, that are priced considerably less at about US$280,000, though they top out at 200 mph and don’t have the aesthetic of the GF7.
Of course, there are some logistics to consider before you start saving your money to be one of the first to own these futuristic jet cars. Developing and manufacturing the GF7 is going to require a tremendous amount of capitol to get it off the ground (pun intended? Maybe.). Additionally, it isn’t entirely clear where the laws would sit with requiring a pilot’s license. While developers can claim that pilot training won’t be necessary, the FAA will likely feel differently. Besides, do we even want people flying these things with no training? Additionally, it isn’t clear how much of a market there would be for the GF7, as even the smallest aircraft that go for around US$5,000-10,000 aren’t really exactly a hot commodity. Without a wide market, manufacturing prices won’t be able to come down, leaving very few people able to afford it.
Time will tell how revisions to laws and regulations will impact the future of the GF7 and other jet cars currently in development. Even if this takes a bit longer to come to fruition that currently predicted, one thing is for certain: between hovercrafts, driverless cars, high speed levitating trains, and now flying cars, the future of transportation is looking pretty damn amazing.
[Hat tip: Francis X Govers III, Gizmag]