Team Behind Virgin Galactic Aircraft Unveils A Hybrid Electric Flying Car

Forget those gas-guzzling flying cars. Now you can drive and fly while saving lots of money on fuel.

Watch out, Terrafugia: Flying car competition is coming your way and it's much more efficient. The BiPod, developed by Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, is already taking test flights. And don't write this off as an aviation geek's pipe dream--Scaled Composites is the company behind Virgin Galactic's spacecraft and launch vehicles, including SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnight Two. It's also a subsidiary of Northrup Grumman.

The hybrid flying car, dubbed Model 367 BiPod, went from preliminary design to inaugural flight (in March) in just four months, according to Aviation Week. The two-seater, which is designed to be driven like a car from the left cockpit and flown like a plan on the right, features two 450cc internal combustion engines, 15 kW motors on both the driving wheels and the motor-driven propellers, and lithium batteries that are recharged during flight. In aircraft mode, the BiPod can go 760 miles at 100 mph. As a car, the fiberglass and carbon fiber vehicle squeezes out 820 miles on a tank of gas and 35 miles in electric mode.

 

There aren't plans to commercially produce the BiPod quite yet; the model vehicle was built to measure outside interest in continued development. But the recent news that the Terrafugia Transition--another flying car--has been cleared for use by the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration means that other companies may be more interested in this kind of vehicle, simply because many of the legal hurdles have already been cleared.

Terrafugia's commercial model rolls off production lines next year. After that, a BiPod-like hybrid model may not be far behind.

[Image: Scaled Composites]

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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