A Low Quality Forecast on Flying Car Prices

This article forecasts the price of flying transportation over time by arguing that flying transportation is revolutionary transportation, and Tesla was also revolutionary transportation, therefore we can estimate the dynamic price trend of flying transportation by looking at how Tesla did over time.

Today I read that a French inventor had flown on a hover board from France to UK in less than 30 minutes. This same inventor is working on a flying car. There have been other attempts at a real life flying suit, and many other attempts at flying cars or highway-legal planes. In order to maximize the number of usable data points, and improve my likelihood of predictive success, I’m lumping these all into the category of personal flight transportation, and I’m expecting, with low confidence, that at least one commercial product will exist in one of these categories which will be predicted in this article.

Price trend data on Tesla:

  1. Tesla was founded in 2003. The first car sold was the Roadster. The first public Roadster prototype was revealed in 2006, and the first private models were delivered in 2008. It was available in the price range of 80-120K USD at introduction time. To generate a maximally conservative price trend, the more-conservative-than-true value of (2006, 80k) is used.
  2. In 2019, Tesla unveiled a Model 3 version with a price tag of $35k. That’s about 27,500 in 2006 USD. That’s about 34% of the 2008 price, or a reduction of 66% over 13 years. This is a price reduction trend which is slower than Moore’s law.
  3. Tesla’s Law might be roughly described as a halving to car prices every 7 years. In case it wasn’t clear, there is so little data here that calling it a law is a joke.

Price trend on becoming Ironman:

  1. In late 2017, an EZ Fly prototype existed with a price tag around $250k.
  2. Gravity Industries was founded in 2017 and produced a different prototype which was purchasable in 2018 for $450k.
  3. Because the trend is in the direction reverse expectation, I’ll just use the pricier, newer version as the origin point.
  4. Applying Tesla’s Law we should see a sub-100k, indeed a sub-60k, consumer product within 21 years. Using the straightforward 66% reduction indicates a $297k Iron Man suit will be available around 2019 + 13 = 2032.

Price trend on flying cars:

  1. Beautifullife.info notes 10 cars you can purchase right now, in 2019. Unfortunately, the title is misleading because a couple of them have no known price. A third, the Terrefugia, has stated that their vehicle will be available for about $280k, but Popular Mechanics is skeptical that this price point is realistic.
    1. In addition to that great list, Kitty Hawk has a 10k recreational water flyer, but if you live on the coast in California or elsewhere it’s worth a glance.
    2. Kitty Hawk, EHang, Uber, Airbus, Lilium, Boeing, Audi, Vertical, Toyota, and others are among the companies working on flying cars which will be available over the next 5 years or so, but at mostly unknown price points.
  2. The Samson Switchblade appears to be the cheapest flying car, at about $150k, but I believe it requires an airport to take off and land. I’ve elected to restrict my search to vertical takeoff and land (VTOL) options due to the fact that support for this scenario is what would present the most value to me in my current situation, as I think is the case for most people.
  3. I’m personally a fan of the BlackFly. It has autopilot and redundant safety features and doesn’t require a pilot’s license. It’s also fully electric and quieter than a car on the highway. However it has drawbacks such as limited range and it is a 1-seat vehicles with limited interior space. On the bright side, it is supposed to be “the price of an SUV.” This would put it between 30k and 90k. That’s cheap enough that I could buy one for myself, my wife, and my 10 month old son and still come out cheaper than the Terrefugia Transition. Interestingly, this price range could line right up with the original Tesla.
  4. Ehang is cool, but it’s also a 1-seater. If we are going to bump up to a 2-seater VTOL, the price rockets to $1.6M with the AeroMobile 4.
  5. In conclusion, for 1-seat flying cars we might see a near replication of the Tesla price pattern, moving from a nominal $90k to a nominal $35k, or an adjusted 27.5k, within about 13 years. Perhaps sub-50k within 5.5-10 years.
    1. Add 14 years to allow two Tesla-generations if you think the Ehang’s 300k 2019 USD figure is more realistic.
    2. For multi-seat flying cars we would want about 2.5 doublings on top of the 27 years. So 1.6M becomes 50k after 5 halvings, or 25k after 6 halvings, or 37.5k after five and one half halvings. 5.5 Tesla generations * 7 years per generation = 38.5 years. Perhaps as few as 30 if larger and smaller flying cars converge in price due to shared technology gains.

In conclusion, based on really terrible data and several unlikely assumptions, a sub-50k flying transportation option is expected within the next 10 years. Within 30 additional years, many more options are expected to become feasible. For better or worse, VTOL or some other car-plane variants seem more likely than Iron Man suits.

Related articles:

  1. 2016, November. Virtual Competition Solves Geographic Monopoly
  2. 2018, May. The Energy Conversation is Overrated

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