Flying car firm Alef hits 2,850 pre-orders worth more than $850 million

BARCELONA, Spain — Alef Aeronautics, a SpaceX-backed flying car company, says it has reached 2,850 pre-orders for its futuristic electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle.

Alef Aeronautics, which is based in San Mateo, California, said the number of pre-orders recently reached a new record after previously reports 2,500 pre-orders for its two-seater flying car, the Alef Model A.

Customers can access Model A pre-orders online, and a $150 deposit on the car is required to pre-order. Customers can withdraw the deposit at any time if they wish so they are not locked out.

Alef plans to charge customers $300,000 for the Model A when it becomes commercially available — so at 2,850 pre-orders, that would give it a total order value of more than $850 million to date.

“To date, we have just over 2,850 pre-orders with reduced deposits, making it the best-selling aircraft in history, more than Boeing, Airbus, Joby Aviation and most eVTOLs [electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles] combined,” Alef CEO Jim Duchovny told CNBC.

At a price of $300,000, Alef is asking prospective customers to part with a lot of cash. Duchovni insists the higher price is necessary because Alef is still a startup and not yet making serious money.

Alef Aeronautics’ Model A car, which it showed at Mobile World Congress as a half-size model, looks like a real car with a mesh shell protecting the rotors inside that allow air to flow through the vehicle.

David Zorakino | Europe Press | Getty Images

Aleph is separately working on a four-seat sedan, the Model Z, which is slated to hit the market by 2035 at a price of $35,000, matching that of cheaper electric vehicles.

Alef is one of several startups trying to make flying cars a reality. Others include Lilium, the German-based air taxi startup, as well as Chinese company Joby Aviation. Last year, South Korean telecommunications firm SKTelecom told CNBC that it plans to launch a flying taxi service in partnership with Joby Aviation in 2025.

Aleph is supported by the likes early on Tesla investor Tim Draper and Elon Musk’s SpaceX space exploration company.

How does Aleph’s car work?

Most of the players in the market currently build models that look like a jet plane and come with wings attached to the sides or large helicopter rotors.

What the Aleph is aiming for is a very different style of vehicle. The company’s Model A car, which it showed at Mobile World Congress as a half-size model, looks like a real car with a mesh shell protecting the rotors inside that allow air to flow through the vehicle.

Duchovny calls Aleph’s vehicle “the first flying car in history.” He says it’s a first because instead of the massive, drone-like design we’ve seen in vehicles from Lilium and Joby Aviation, Alef’s looks like a real car.

“I know people have asked for the first flying car,” Duchovny said. “But we’ve always had the idea that it should be a car, a physical car, a regular car, as you can see, it’s an eVTOL, an electric car. regular car, driving, parking, watching, everything like a car, and vertical takeoff.”

Aleph’s car is mainly designed for driving on roads, but it will also be able to take to the sky.

To move on the road, the car uses four small motors in each of the wheels and will move much like a normal electric car. There are eight propellers on the front and back of the car that spin independently at different speeds so they can fly in any direction.

The Alef Model A has a cruising speed of 110 mph while in the air, while on the road it is limited to between 25 and 35 mph.

Once up, the Alef Model A can be turned sideways while the cockpit rotates so the driver can continue to look forward and the car effectively becomes a biplane with the vehicles long sides serving as the top and bottom “wings”. “

Aiming to launch in 2025

The Alef Model A, which weighs 850 pounds, also qualifies as an ultralight vehicle, meaning it falls under the same legal classification as small electric vehicles like golf carts.

Duchovny says that should make it easier for the vehicle to pass key regulatory approvals to get the green light to begin flights in 2025.

“If everything goes as it should, we plan and if we have enough funding, if the law is at least not worse, it will exist as it is, we plan by the end to start production of the first one from 2025.”

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration granted Alef a special certificate of airworthiness, allowing for limited purposes that include exhibition, research and development of its flying car. Aleph still needs to receive further approval to pave the way for consumer flights.

However, Duchovni admits that despite the company’s large number of pre-orders, it will not be able to meet this demand immediately.

“It’s crazy how to produce 2,850 cars,” Alef’s executive said. “We’re going to start slow. And when people think that it’s a million of them that will fly over San Francisco or Barcelona, ​​it’s not going to happen. It will be very slow – one, then more, and then more,” he added.

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