Dutch company PAL-V is on track to begin delivery of its Liberty flying car late next year, with the business officially opening up its order books to customers interested in owning the nearly half-million-dollar vehicle. The PAL-V liberty is a three-wheeled vehicle which has rotors on the roof and the tail. These rotors can be folded while driving the vehicle on regular roads, and can then be expanded to their normal position when the user wants to take off. The company claims that the conversion from drive to fly mode requires around 5-10 minutes.
The PAL-V Liberty is equipped with two engines: one for driving and the other for flying. Rotor above the roof uses wind power to generate lift, while the rear-mounted rotors are powered by an independent engine to generate the required thrust. Equipped with a pair of engines—one each for ground and air travel—the two-seat Liberty is claimed to weigh a mere 1413 pounds. We assume this figure marks the Liberty’s dry weight, as the vehicle’s 26.4-gallon fuel tank is good for about 160 pounds of weight in gasoline alone. While PAL-V is keeping its lips sealed when it comes to the Liberty’s powertrain specifics, here’s what we do know: Both engines are supplied by the Austrian aircraft-engine manufacturer Rotax, and when left to its own devices on tarmac, the Liberty is said to produce 100 horsepower, achieve fuel economy of 31 mpg, and accelerate to 62 mph in less than nine seconds on its way to a 100-mph top speed.
PAL-V claims that the switch to flying mode takes between five and 10 minutes, with the company noting that most of the conversion process is done via the vehicle’s Semi-Automatic Conversion System, leaving the driver/pilot the task of manually unfolding the Liberty’s rotor blade, propeller, and tail. Entering flying mode transforms the Liberty from a 13.1-foot-long and 5.4-foot-tall car into a 20.1-foot-long and 10.5-foot-tall flying machine. In the sky, the Liberty’s secondary engine makes 200 horsepower and can speed the craft through the air at speeds as high as 112 mph while reaching a maximum operating altitude of 11,480 feet. Those seeking efficiency, though, will want to cruise at a more economical flying speed of 87 mph, which gives the flying machine a maximum range of 310 miles. Add a passenger in the Liberty’s second seat, though, and that range drops to 248 miles.
The PAL-V liberty weighs 664 kg when empty and has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 910 kg. In its drive mode, the Liberty develops 99 BHP of power and has a company-claimed top speed of 160 km/h. PAL-V further claims that the vehicle can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in less than 9 seconds, while its fuel economy is 13.16 km/l. In the flying mode, the PAL-V liberty has a power output of 198 BHP, a claimed top speed of 180 km/h and a maximum operating altitude of 3,500 metres.
Of course, the PAL-V can’t be flown by just anyone. The company notes that the Liberty’s operator must have both a driver’s and pilot’s license to use the vehicle in its two forms. Likewise, a 10-to-15-minute pre-flight inspection is required before entering any airspace. Since this is the 21st century, PAL-V has developed an app that allows Liberty owners to calculate the time they’re saving overall by flying as opposed to driving, letting customers know that the time spent during the pre-flight inspection really is worth it. The app also lets the operator know how many stops are needed to fly to a given destination, among other features.
Although the PAL-V Liberty starts at $399,000 for the Sport model, interested customers can choose to drop an additional $200,000 on one of the company’s 90-unit run of Pioneer Edition models. While both the Sport and Pioneer Edition include a course to familiarize the Liberty’s new owner with the vehicle’s unique nature, as well as introductory training, only the Pioneer Edition comes standard with items such as dual controls, an electronic flight-instrument system, power heating, and carbon-fiber detailing. For what it’s worth, PAL-V notes that each of those features can be added to the Sport as well.
Those interested in purchasing a Liberty will need to write a nonrefundable deposit check for $25,000 for the Pioneer Edition or $10,000 for the Sport. Alternatively, consumers can drop $2500 ($2000 of which is refundable) to lock in a spot on the Liberty’s waiting list.