Flying car by California startup Alef attracts early Tesla investor

Oct 19 (Reuters) – The concept of a flying car is not new – inventors have been trying to incorporate wings to wheeled motor automobiles for a long time, with only constrained success.

Jim Dukhovny, founder of Alef Aeronautics, hopes to change that equation. His California-dependent agency has come up with a novel solution to going terrestrial automobiles into the skies and has captivated at minimum 1 distinguished undertaking capitalist.

Alef’s Product A, which is just rising from a 7-year gestation period of time, appears to be like considerably less like the traveling automobiles in outdated movies and extra like Bruce Willis’ flying taxi in the 1997 movie “The Fifth Component.”

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The abnormal look – which capabilities a human body that flips on its aspect to grow to be the wing following elevate-off – is just just one part that captivated Tim Draper, an early trader in Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and SpaceX whose Draper Associates Fund V has backed Alef with $3 million in seed dollars.

After Draper experienced manufactured a modest first financial commitment, “I put more (funds in) when I saw that they experienced made a modest drone prototype that did accurately what they told me it would do,” he claimed in an e mail. “The structure is extraordinary. The sides of the car or truck develop into the wings when the airplane goes horizontal.”

Based mostly in Santa Clara in the coronary heart of Silicon Valley, Alef has built the Product A – a swoopy still fairly standard-seeking electric car – with the means to choose off and land vertically. And of system, to fly.

Dukhovny, who is Alef’s CEO, has never ever designed a car until finally now. He is a laptop or computer scientist, software program designer, science-fiction buff and serial entrepreneur who when ran an on-line gaming web-site identified as Intellectual On line casino.

In an job interview, he claimed the hand-created Design A is designed to market for $300,000, with creation and initial deliveries slated in 2025. That cost tag, by the way, is the identical beginning rate prepared for the Cadillac brand’s electrical-motor vehicle flagship , the Celestiq, which really should begin arriving for buyers in early 2024, in accordance to Cadillac guardian Typical Motors Co (GM.N).

1 characteristic that sets the Model A aside from earlier versions of flying automobiles is how it flies. As soon as it lifts off the ground, the cockpit swivels and the carbon-fiber body turns above on its side, then moves forward, driven by an array of propellers. Most other recent attempts by opponents resemble huge drones – and are not able of wheeled vacation on the floor.

“The whole car or truck is the wing,” explained Dukhovny.

Alef estimates a driving range of 200 miles (322 km) and a flight assortment of 100 miles.

Dukhovny has an even greater trick up his sleeve for 2030: A proposed Design Z sedan, with a flight variety of 200 miles and a driving array of 400 miles – and a projected price tag of $35,000.

“This is not extra complicated than a Toyota Corolla,” he mentioned. “Our target is to make positive it has the same selling price issue.”

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Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit Enhancing by Matthew Lewis

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