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Detroit 2022: A Flying Car Over the Auto Show

The Detroit Auto Show returned this year, for the first time since 2019, but of course it returned to a very different reality for events of this kind. The event was much reduced in size, with only a few U.S. automaker presentations were on the menu.

And that left us a little more time to check out some of the other companies that were on hand to showcase their wares. One of those that caught our attention was a firm we had seen here and there before, but this time, a little information received at the booth piqued our curiosity.

Icon, a company that has developed a flying car, had scheduled a few flight demonstrations for the next day. One of them was in the early morning and allowed us to see, from our hotel room, two units flying over the Detroit River. We implore your indulgence for the quality of the obtained pictures, but considering the distance which separated us from the two-seaters...

In fact, we know that the flying car has been actively in testing for some time now. Its original conception stretches back as far as the turn of the present century; if you want to really push things back, there were viable prototypes in existence as far back as the 1950s.  However, the technology is infinitely more refined and advanced today, and the idea of offering folks a new airborne transportation option is no longer a far-fetched one.

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The Icon A5 flying car at the Detroit Auto Show
Photo: D.Rufiange
The Icon A5 flying car at the Detroit Auto Show

As Icon states on its website, its aircraft is not designed for commercial purposes, but rather for recreational use. The A5 model that we had the opportunity to see up close at the Detroit show (and then from afar in the sky) is powered by a 100-hp Rotax engine and offers a range of 420 nautical miles. Maximum speed is 176 km/h, and it can run on 91-octane gasoline. The company describes it as very agile and easy to fly.

The Icon A5 is the evolution of the original concept first presented in July 2008. In 2015, the company delivered its first unit to a consumer. In 2017, three incidents marred the company's reputation, but investigations determined that the accidents that occurred were the result of pilot error.

Clearly, the flying car is technologically just around the corner, if not already feasible, however it’s not going to accessible to everyone. Not with a base price of $359,000...

Two Icon A5s
Photo: D.Rufiange
Two Icon A5s
One of the two flying Icon A5s touches water
Photo: D.Rufiange
One of the two flying Icon A5s touches water

Note that this flying car can land and take off on pavement as well as on water, as shown in one of our images where the pilot went to touch the water surface. On land, the Icon A5 needs a clearance of 640 feet; on the water, 840. For the possibility of landing or ditching, we’re talking about distances of 590 and 700 feet, in order.

Don't worry, we won't be trying out a model anytime soon, although if we were offered a little ride, we would gladly climb aboard the A5, which can accommodate two occupants (430 lb capacity plus 60 lb for luggage).

We'll be back next week with more of the companies we met at the Detroit Auto Show 2022, firms that revolve around the automotive world we know.

The Icon A5 inside the auto show
Photo: D.Rufiange
The Icon A5 inside the auto show
The Icon A5 outside the auto show
Photo: D.Rufiange
The Icon A5 outside the auto show