What Part Of This, Exactly, Is A Car?

Illustration for article titled What Part Of This, Exactly, Is A Car?
Photo: Airspeeder

Have you noticed that we, as a society, have grown increasingly liberal about what we define as a car? I’ve generally been under the impression that a car is a type of powered vehicle with four wheels that is smaller than a truck but does its job nonetheless—a vehicle that spends more of its time on the ground than, say, in the air or on the water. Now, though, Airspeeder wants me to believe that its plane racer is actually a car. And folks, I just can’t do it.


Its newest invention is called the Airspeeder Mk3, a part-drone part-plane that kind of looks like it’s trying to be a Star Wars pod racer, and that machine is said to be the basis of Airspeeder’s flying car series coming in 2022.

Again, I would like to draw your attention to this vehicle, which is pointedly not a car. It is a plane. It is not a flying car. There is nothing “car” about this. Nothing!

McLaren, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, and Brabham were all involved in the manufacturing of the Mk3, and it most definitely looks cool as hell. I won’t deny the fact that it’s a neat piece of machinery. But it’s not a car.

And we’re not even going to have people behind the wheel yet, because these all-electric machines will be remote controlled from the ground. Like drone racing, but on a bigger scale. Let’s talk some specs:

  • The Mk3 is supposed to perform vertical take-off and landing.
  • It has one propeller at each corner.
  • It has a 96-kilowatt-hour powertrain that provides it with a thrust-to-weight ratio above two.
  • It weighs 220 lbs.
  • It has a top speed of 75 mph.
  • It has lidar and radar collision systems.
  • It hosts a “slide and lock” battery system to allow for the batteries to be changed during the race.
Photo: Airspeeder
Photo: Airspeeder

Okay. That’s cool. I can even look past the fact that there aren’t going to be real people behind the wheel until 2022 because it gives Airspeeder a chance to get its shit in order without putting anyone at risk.

But, Airspeeder, this is not a car. It is not even a flying car. It’s a drone. There is not one defining car component on this machine, and that alone is enough to put me off the series (although, with that said, I’m still fascinated by the whole concept and will probably watch anyway, albeit with plenty of semantic bitching).


I will have to be convinced.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



If we’re getting into semantic bitching, I wouldn’t even call it a drone, as it seems to have a cockpit for manned flight, which would make it a regular helicopter.

Although the cockpit doesn’t seem to be designed to hold a pilot, so maybe it is actually a drone?

Also, there seems to be an error. 96kWh worth of Lithium-ion batteries would weigh 1060lbs alone, which is a bit more than the 220lbs stated.