This article originally appeared on VICE India.
From The Jetsons to Blade Runner, most sci-fi themed movies or shows that fast forward to the future have featured flying cars. While there have been many attempts at perfecting a car that can glide on the road and also in the skies, most of them never quite took off, at least not long enough to be commercially viable. Now, The Personal Air-Land Vehicle or PAL-V, a Netherlands-based company that claims to have made the world’s first commercial flying cars wants to swoop into the Indian market. So, they have decided to set up a manufacturing plant in Gujarat.
The design of this crossover between a car and a plane comes packed with two engines and can seat two people at a time. It can carry about 20 kgs of baggage and has an upper limit of 910 kgs. It can drive at a maximum speed of 160 km/h and fly at about 180 km/h, taking three minutes to convert from car to plane. It can go up to 500 km with a full tank.
At the moment, the company only has a handful of limited edition models which they’ve named Liberty, that they claim are the first of their kind. However, they have chosen Gujarat for its "world class infrastructure, ease of doing business and better port and logistic facilities.” This could be just a fancy way of saying that it’s cheaper to make something like this in India, especially given that India managed to cut down the cost of even manufacturing rocket technology. Plus, cheaper labour is another reason many companies choose the country too.
The PAL-V is still waiting for the central government to approve its plant. It has grand plans of exporting all cars manufactured in India to other countries in Europe, and has reportedly already received orders for 110 so far. They’re also aiming for their cars to be used by coast guards, police forces, medical emergency services, government agencies and corporate organisations.
So even as the concept of flying cars is still waiting to take off, it could be a game-changer for India, especially as car sales continue to slump and with Indian roads topping the list of the world’s most traffucked ones.
“The Indian government seems upbeat about futuristic technology and hopefully, adoption,” Robert Dingemanse, the CEO of PAL-V, told The Economic Times. “We hope to see India get its first car in 2021.”
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