Written by Thembani Magazi – Aug 19, 2021
Reviewed by Asaf Kedem
A vehicle capable of, from rest, achieving vertical takeoff and landing. The market for VTOLs and eVTOLs is growing larger by the day and reports keep coming in of new projects that promise to deliver a new take on this automotive innovation. One such project is by Urban eVTOL and it seeks to provide a three-seat “flying hypercar” which will boast an almost unbelievable top speed of 400 km/h and an all-electric range of over 480 kilometres.
The new company is a joint venture. Pete Bitar – a VTOL and eVTOL inventor with over 14 patents to his name – is working together with automotive designer Carlos Salaff, an automotive designer who has worked on futuristic concept and production cars for Mazda, including the Nagare, Furai, Mazda 3 and MX-5. Together the two want to bring to the market “Leo”: an eVTOL with the potential to make waves in the nascent industry. Urban eVTOL say the Leo Coupe is designed by Salaff and features “a revolutionary, proven electric propulsion system created by Pete Bitar.”
Leo is expected to be able to fit in most 2-car garages and its fully electric propulsion system consists of powerful electric jets. Enclosed within Leo’s wings are the vehicle’s rotors and according to a recent interview with Bitar, Leo will run 16 10-kw vertical thrusters, each of about 40cm in diameter, making 534 N of thrust. There will be three in each of the forward banks, five in the rear banks and the forward thruster array will use six 28-cm jets with turbine blades as opposed to propeller blades. A double box-wing design – which curls at the front and at the back – will enable Leo to complete its horizontal flights once it reaches speeds of around 180 km/h. Louvres or covers are expected to close off the vertical lift ducts while at speed to reduce drag forces.
When asked about how range will equate to flight time, Bitar said this in an interview with New Atlas: “We are expecting an hour and 15 minutes, including about five minutes of vertical takeoff and landing, with reserves. With our high forward speed of 250 mph, you’re looking at nearly 300-miles, or 450 kilometres, roughly, on a single charge.”
The hypercar’s cutting edge propulsion system has recently been awarded funding by DARPA – the United States Government's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency – which will allow for further developments of the design.
Auto Trendy’s take
A flying electric hypercar sounds like something from the realms of science fiction. A tantalisingly futuristic concept that we are glad is being made into something real-life and driveable. Not much is known about this project beyond the scant details provided by the two geniuses behind the hypercar but beyond its surface level charm, Leo will have to prove that it’s up to the task to keep its occupants safe and guaranteed to enjoy every flight with minimal difficulty. We will be tuned in to hear more about this vehicle as its production continues. We still have little idea as to what the finished car will cost. What we have seen so far seems promising and the technology behind eVTOLs is truly fascinating. Luckily us car fans live in an era where the sky is apparently the limit.