The Alef Aeronautics Model A is officially the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) car to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meaning it can legally fly over the United States.

The statement comes from the company itself, which claims that the wingless flying car has a 200-mile driving range and a flight range of 110 miles, but as it stands now, the futuristic-looking vehicle is still very much a prototype, and I wasn’t able to find any footage of test flights, even though Alef says it has been test-driving and test-flying full-size prototypes since 2019 (the video embedded above is from the vehicle's unveiling in October 2022).

Nevertheless, the startup began taking pre-orders for the Model A flying car in October 2022 and claims to have received over 440 reservations by the end of the year. People can pay a $150 deposit to get into the “regular” queue or $1,500 to be in the “priority” queue.

Gallery: Alef Model A electric VTOL flying car

If and when the Model A becomes available to the public, its starting price is set at $300,000 (approx. £258,800), which sounds like a lot, but if it works as advertised – that is, you could take off anywhere, on any street, and land anywhere on the other side of a town, without needing a runway – it’s not that bad.

“We’re excited to receive this certification from the FAA,” said Jim Dukhovny, CEO of Alef Aeronautics. “It allows us to move closer to bringing people an environmentally friendly and faster commute, saving individuals and companies hours each week. This is one small step for planes, one giant step for cars.”

When it’s all said and done, the Alef Model A looks to be the flying car we’ve been waiting for for the last century or so. The perfect solution to beating traffic on the morning and evening commutes. But it’s far from the first vehicle to promise this, with Aska and Xpeng immediately springing into mind, so we’re keen to see if the company will live up to the expectations.

Design-wise, it’s quite an interesting creation, with a mesh-like structure on the upper part of the bodywork, which is there presumably to allow airflow for the embedded electric motors that enable vertical lift-off and landing.

Because it can reportedly take off like a helicopter, it doesn’t need wings like a traditional aircraft, so it doesn’t have them, meaning it looks more like a car and less like a flying vehicle. 

Alef Aeronautics built its first subscale prototype in 2016 and then, a scaled version of the company’s proprietary electric propulsion system was shown to venture capitalist and early Tesla investor Tim Draper, who invested $3 million in seed money via Draper Associates Fund V.

The startup says it’s also developing additional models, like the so-called Model Z flying saloon that’s scheduled to debut in 2035 with a starting price of $35,000 (£30,000), a driving range of over 300 miles, and a flying range of over 220 miles.