It's taken 25 years, but Paul Moller's company will be bringing a sky car to market next year. No kidding -- it's a vertical-takeoff and -landing craft that you can park in the garage, drive to work, and pay a cool half million for.
Moller International, in Davis, Calif., already has accepted deposits that reserve 80 of its futuristic flying machines. The federal government is one of Moller's first customers, and the state of California is exploring gridlock solutions with the company. But a mass market remains years away.
"Navigating the maze of Federal Aviation Administration approvals will be the toughest part," says Moller, who has financed $26 million in research and product development by selling off the company's muffler and exhaust product lines. He hopes to mass-produce the vehicles through strategic alliances with aerospace or automotive giants. Without such deals, the sticker prices of about $500,000 are bound to keep most feet on the ground.
Revolutionizing an industry takes time, Moller admits. But the market could reach $10 billion to $70 billion by 2010. And for a futurist, "that's not so far away."
-- Anne Murphy* * *