The Volantor flying car, designed by Paul Moller of Davis, California, was introduced to the world

Monday 22nd March 1999

The Volantor flying car, designed by Paul Moller of Davis, California, was introduced to the world. It was estimated to have range of 900 miles.’Volantor’ was a term coined by Moller meaning: a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that’s capable of flying in a quick, nimble and agile manner. It had ducted fans powered by Wankel rotary engines. The fans allowed for vertical take-off and landing and, once the vehicle was aloft, it relied on the ground effect to create a cushion of air that the vehicle sits upon while flying. The vehicle had only two controls, one for speed and direction and the other for altitude. The driver did not need to know flying but only needed to know how to control speed, direction and altitude.

Moller had predicted they would have Volantor M200G ready for sale by early 2008 with a goal of 250 units produced in the year, but this did not occur. Depending upon demand, the M200G could cost under US$100,000 according to the company. Moller International has a long record of making promises which are not fulfilled, which tends to generate skepticism about their claims.

In a 2005 episode of the Discovery Channel television show MythBusters it was reported that more than US$200 million had gone into the development of flying cars. Moller has been claiming to be attempting to build a flying car since 1974, constantly promising delivery dates that are just “around the corner” but the closest Moller has come to producing a vehicle that flies is the M200G Neuera, which has been demonstrated to hover outside of ground effect. He has not produced any evidence or figures to support the promised abilities, such as fuel economy equivalent to that of an automobile; indeed, each proposed model would use eight less fuel-efficient Wankel engines, each of which must maintain high RPMs even when idle. The only demonstration approaching flight was a “hover” test performed by a Skycar prototype that was tethered to a crane, which Moller claimed was “for insurance purposes”. Each time the deadline approaches, Moller has postponed it. For example, since 2003, when he started taking presale deposits for the flagship model M400, the date for FAA certification promised to investors and buyers has been moved forward one year each year, and lastly stood at December 31, 2008. In 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Moller for civil fraud (Securities And Exchange Commission v. Moller International, Inc., and Paul S. Moller, Defendants) in connection with the sale of unregistered stock, and for making unsubstantiated claims about the performance of the company’s flagship M400 Skycar. Moller settled this lawsuit by agreeing to a permanent injunction and paying $50,000. In the words of the SEC complaint, “As of late 2002, MI’s approximately 40 years’ of development has resulted in a prototype Skycar capable of hovering about fifteen feet [4.5 m] above the ground.”

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