Burt Rutan has designed a flying car, and it is no surprise that it’s unlike any other flying car that’s come before. It’s a hybrid.
The gasoline-electric twin-pod vehicle has a range of 760 miles in the air and 820 miles on the ground, and it works a bit like a Chevrolet Volt. Electric motors provide propulsion, while two gasoline engines drive generators that keep the juice flowing.
Design No. 367 — the craft is named in accordance with the simple numbering system long used by Rutan — was unveiled during the weekend after making its first short hop in the air on March 30. It is the legendary aerospace designer’s final project at Scaled Composites, the company he founded in 1982.
The Model 367 BiPod has a wingspan of 31 feet 10 inches. Tuck the removable wings between the pods and the car measures 7 feet 11 inches, so it fits into a one-car garage.
One twist on the problem facing flying car designers over the years is how the vehicle is controlled. The Model 367 BiPod is flown from the right pod and driven from the left. It is not the first Rutan design aircraft to buck the aviation tradition of being piloted from the left seat.
The final design is expected to feature a pair of 450 cc four stroke engines, one in each pod. Similar to the Chevrolet Volt (and a hybrid electric airplane from Siemens/EADS), the engines will power a pair of generators that power the electric motors. Four 15 kilowatt (20 horsepower) motors will spin the props (not yet installed) in the air, while two 15 kilowatt motors will turn the wheels on the road.