Sunday, September 10, 2023


When I say “where’s my flying car?”, I am saying “where is our vision of the future?

Fantasies of flying cars have abounded for as love as cars have been driven across the ground. They became such a cliché about frivolous predictions of our future that the film “Back to the Future” ended with a flying DeLorean as a joke, with the sequels’ sensible predictions about sky-high motorways and hovercar conversion kits making the far-off future of 2015 more realistic.

Having now passed that future, our fantasies have become more grounded, and more backward-looking than we may like. Mastering cars that no longer use an internal combustion engine, or a driver to drive them where possible, have become real-life practical concerns ahead of flying cars, and in doing so are using past glories to make this future appeal to us.

Volkswagen, in its aim to produce only electric cars in Europe from 2033, has produced a concept car named the “ID. GTI”, which they hope to enter production by 2027. Evoking the famous VW Golf GTi, which pioneering the sporty small “hot hatch” car class, it intends to replicate the driving dynamics of its predecessors to the letter. From VW’s press release, by integrating the powertrain to the car’s control system, “for the first time, it is therefore possible to adjust the drive system, running gear, steering, sound experience and even the simulated shift points in the style of one of the historical GTI models – such as the Golf GTI I from 1976, the first Golf GTI II 16V from 1986 or the legendary Golf GTI IV ‘25 years of GTI’ from 2001. This makes the ID. GTI Concept a highly dynamic time machine.”

This sounds like using cutting-edge technology to play old computer games for their nostalgia value. If VW can do this, what is stopping them from emulating any car they like, or you want? With the ID. GTI based on another concept car that is designed to be more affordable, the ID. 2all, there is nothing to prevent that car from being able to mimic an original post-war Beetle, or a Karmann-Ghia, Scirocco, Hillman Avenger, Bentley Continental, or a Lincoln Continental: each car could become a profile to pay and download, the correct dials and switches coming up on the touch-video dashboard.

Despite this, some people are still looking forward: Alef Automotive, a California-based company, has received certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration, but not yet from its road-going equivalent, to continue testing its Model A, a car with vertical take-off and landing capability, a flying range of up to 110 miles, and an estimated delivery date of 2025. The company’s founders have worked on the vehicle since 2015, having been inspired by what they saw in “Back to the Future Part II”. Prices start from $300,000.

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