Flying cars might sound like science fiction, but hundreds of startups around the world – including some based in Florida – have been testing flying car technology for years and are almost ready to start selling them.
Like most new technologies (think back to when Tesla first hit the market) the first air taxi models are likely to be too pricey and rare for most people to own. A reality where you commute to work in an air taxi or your own flying car is not right around the corner.
But they could be coming soon for some organizations.
Entities like NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and first responders will be the first to use air taxis daily and are anticipated to employ them as soon as 2025. Under the FAA’s guidance and its “crawl-walk-run” plan to introduce air mobility, this new aircraft is first being launched in the places where it packs the most punch; which is why having one if your driveway won't be as likely as seeing an EMT use an air taxi to fly someone to the hospital.
In July, the first “flying car,” or electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Last week, Tampa International Airport hosted a test flight for another flying car, made by a German company.
Here’s a roundup of Florida’s ties to the advanced air mobility market (AAM), some Florida companies that are set up to succeed in the market and how much flying cars will cost.
Who is manufacturing flying cars?
According to an April 2022 report from Business Insider, the urban air mobility market has been raking in significant funding since 2021 and could be worth more than $1 trillion by 2040.
On Nov. 2, German eVTOL manufacturer Volocopter tested its air taxi at Tampa’s airport. The company is taking a big slice of the advanced air mobility market pie, currently valued at a whopping $1.87 billion.
But why did a German company test its flight in Florida? It’s a simple answer: shared interest.
Not only does Volocopter welcome support from local governments and airports that are interested in air taxi services (no matter where they are in the world), but Hillsborough County, Florida, and the Tampa International Airport have already expressed interest in employing AAM tech in their operations.
Hillsborough County’s aviation authority and the Transportation Planning Agency have reportedly been in talks with other eVTOL companies as well, like BETA Technologies, Joby, Wisk and more.
"Flying at a large, active airport always presents a multitude of challenges, but we proved that our aircraft is safe, quiet, and efficiently useful in a city like Tampa," Volocopter CEO Dirk Hoke told Tampa airport officials. "Volocopter sees this as the starting point of the entry into service in the US, and we will come back to show our continued progress."
There are hundreds of eVTOL companies pulling in massive amounts of funding from investors and making deals with local governments, airports and transportation agencies, but here are a few American companies worth noting:
Alef Aeronautics - San Mateo, California
Doroni Aerospace - Pompano Beach, Florida
Eve Air Mobility - Melbourne, Florida
Joby Aviation - Marina, California
Archer Aviation - Palo Alto, California
Jaunt Air Mobility - Dallas, Texas
Are there flying car companies in Florida?
Doroni Aerospace and Eve Air Mobility both operate in Florida.
Based near Fort Lauderdale in Pompano Beach, Doroni Aerospace was founded in 2016 and has since completed more than 50 test flights of its first electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, or flying car, at its facilities.
The startup has backing for resources like land, facilities and tooling from Space Florida, a state agency that works to preserve Florida's position in the aerospace industry. Doroni is also backed by the city of Pompano Beach and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.
"Florida is a big aviation hub, one of the best in the world for aviation maintenance" Doroni's CEO Doron Merdinger told the Herald-Tribune in July. "It feels natural for us here. We are open to other states as well but it really depends on what we can achieve as far as support grants and offerings from other states. At this point, we're good in Florida."
Eve Air Mobility has also been establishing its presence in the eVTOL industry and in Florida for over a decade. The flying car company was spun out of Brazil-based multinational aerospace company Embraer. The parent company opened its first manufacturing facility in Melbourne, Florida in 2011 and in 2023, Eve established its headquarters on Embraer’s campus.
Eve is backed by Florida Power and Light and, like Doroni, has support from Space Florida.
How much will flying cars cost?
Like with most startup technology, it could be a while before we see flying cars available to the public and the first models will be pricey. Most eVTOL companies hope to have their aircraft launch commercially by 2025 or 2026.
You can preorder an Alef or Doroni flying car on the companies' websites. The price tag for the first Alef flying car is listed at $299,999 on the startup's website. Doroni's first commercially-available model is expected to hover between $250,000 and $300,000.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida air taxi has successful flight. Here are ties to flying cars