Make way for the Skycar

by Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

Good news for all those people waiting for the hover car to arrive: California-based Moller International is now taking deposits on vehicles that will apparently go on sale within a few months. And the price isn't too bad, assuming you happen to have at least 24 friends who are equally keen on the new form of locomotion: the M400 Skycar goes for $995,000 US for orders of 25, and as low as $500,000 for orders of 100 or more.

The Skycar, which looks like a red-coloured Batmobile, has four rotating vertical take-off and landing engines and sort of resembles a Harrier jet in how it takes off. Moller says the vehicle is capable of speeds up to 600 kilometres an hour, runs on regular gasoline, diesel or ethanol and can carry four passengers. The Skycar can drive along the road like a regular car, but its purpose is to hover off the ground. It can go up to 10 feet, beyond which the driver would need a pilot's licence.

Its inventor, Dr. Paul Moller, says the hover car's time has come.

"Look at the sky above us - how many aircraft do you see? It's a great space that is not being utilised," he told the BBC. "That is what we plan to use. Cars are finished as a means of getting around. It's only a matter of time."

Some of the promo videos, such as the mock rescue by Skycar, on Moller's website are hilarious, perhaps unintentionally so.

As the BBC notes, however, Moller has made similar promises before, including a flying car by 2002. In 2003, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a case against Moller for making "false and misleading statements" when trying to find new investors. The company ended up settling out of court and paying a penalty of $50,000 US.