The company LEO Flight, formerly known as Urban eVTOL, were first heard of back in summer 2021 when they announced their concept for a flying hypercar design, the Leo Coupe. Early digital renders of the car show an ultra-sleek, hyper-futuristic wheel-free sports car design that included folded-box wings and was capable of horizontal flight up to 250-mph.
It may have seemed like a crazy pipe dream back in 2021, but its two creators have now taken the project forward with a dramatic step that we’ll explore in more detail below.
A prototype arrives
The big news is that the Leo Coupe’s creators, aerospace engineer and propulsion specialist Pete Bitar, and hypercar designer Carlos Salaff, have taken the next big step forward and created a working alpha prototype of the Leo Coupe. The goal is to eventually reach a production model that can match the predicted 250-mph speeds and carry up to 3 people when traveling.
As it happens, their prototype is nothing quite like the digital renderings that we’ve been treated to so far. In fact, it seemingly couldn’t be further from that. It’s currently just a sort of flying aluminum frame with none of the bodywork or other style and build features that you might expect to find on a hypercar. The main purpose of the “LX-1” prototype, as it is currently being referred to, is to perfect and test the propulsion system.
A plethora of jets
If you thought this would be just a car with a jet engine strapped to the bottom of it, think again. The LX-1 is built with a total of 200 vertical jets, each one just 4.4 inches in diameter, and each one capable of producing up to 11.7-lbs of thrust — that’s more than 2,300-lbs in total. The aluminum frame and other physical structures of the LX-1 come to just 1,100-lbs, so that leaves plenty of room even for some fairly hefty passengers and cargo.
The prototype comes complete with its own makeshift cockpit with control joysticks. There’s nothing resembling landing gear at the moment, but then again the LX-1 is not ready to go airborne just yet. Bitar is working on a careful timeline, and in 2022 only plans to get the frame airborne, and nothing more. The jet technology has been tested on other devices, but it is yet to be used as intended on the LX-1 prototype.
The future of personal flight?
The idea of personal flight; being able to hop in one’s own flying machine and take oneself all over the country, perhaps even all over the world, is one that has long been presented to us through science fiction media.
LEO Flight and its visionaries want eventually to have the Leo Coupe be able to fly around 300 miles on a single charge of a 66kWh battery. The smaller fans being used in the new prototype present a challenge there because while they are more powerful together, they are less energy efficient. Cost is another factor, because while Bitar had imagined a retail price of less than $290,000, COVID-related supply chain issues have driven that price up to $459,900.
Source: Leo Flight