A hi-tech flying car could make its world debut in Bermuda to coincide with next year’s America’s Cup.
The makers of the three-wheel PAL-V, which converts from a road vehicle into an aircraft in minutes, said the island was the perfect place to launch the vehicle.
Special launch models, with unique paintwork and luxury trim, are expected to cost around $600,000 while the standard version will sell for about $400,000.
And Andre Voskuil, the North American vice-president for Dutch-based PAL-V, said that Bermudian potential customers had expressed an interest in buying a PAL-V.
He added that an influx of super-rich tourists for the America’s Cup and the island’s international make-up made it the ideal launch pad for the PAL-V.
He said: “The America’s Cup is a big event. It will be more or less a worldwide launch — we’ve started pre-sales to some of our shareholders and wealthy people who are interested in making a pre-order.”
Mr Voskuil said: “We are a Dutch company, but we’re also active in North America and we have an international clientele — and Bermuda, of all the places in the world, is very international.”
He added that, although there is a flying prototype, full-scale production will not start until 2018, so the launch will involve a flight simulator and a scale or full-scale model of the PAL-V.
He said: “There are various venues here in Bermuda that would like to accommodate us on that.
“But it won’t be flying here simply because we don’t have commercial models yet.”
Mr Voskuil added that existing connections in Bermuda had helped open doors for the company.
He said: “We have very good connections in Bermuda and it’s also to start with connections you already have. We’re not only hopeful, but very much encouraged with all the feedback we have had.”
Mr Voskuil added that he and colleague Mark Jennings-Bates had also met representatives of the new Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority and they had been told that certification in Europe and the US would be acceptable — opening the way for the two-seater machines to be based here.
He said: “If we have these certifications, European and American, it could come here. That’s very encouraging, but we still have to go through all the hoops.
“There are certain people, including people in Bermuda, who have expressed interest in being one of the first owners of a flying car.”
The company has already set up flight-training school in Utah to qualify buyers on conventional German-built autogiros, which use the same principles as the PAL-V in flight mode.
The rotor and tailplane are folded away for road use.
In flight mode, an propeller at the rear moves the craft forward. Wind then generates lift on the helicopter-type rotor, which makes it airborne.
The flying car needs around 600 feet for take-off.
The tricycle arrangement of the wheels allows for a patented tilting system to be fitted so in car mode it can lean into corners like a motorbike.
The machines have a top speed of around 180kph or 112mph on the ground and in the air.