Your dream childhood vehicle, that’s what the Arosa is. If we’re lucky, the Arosa will start first deliveries later this year – but more on that later on.
This wonder hovercraft from the future first made headlines in 2014, when the concept was introduced and the pre-order books were opened. Back then, it was called Supercraft and was designed by Mercier-Jones, with a 2015 delivery timeline. Michael Mercier, the brains behind the idea, eventually set up his own company, VonMercier, and he’s hoping it will be able to finally build and deliver the first limited-edition units of the (renamed and improved) Arosa at long last.
The original Supercraft, like the Arosa, rode on an air cushion, which allowed it to glide over literally any kind of surface and deliver the same smooth, comfortable and easy ride. Patented directional control, fly-by-wire activation, and a hybrid drivetrain (a pair of gasoline engines and twin electric motors for controlled thrust), together with a lightweight body made of carbon fiber and chromium alloy would make this hovercraft fast and stable, yet very easy to operate.
Numbers circulated in 2015 in relation to the Supercraft included a two-person tandem cabin, a top speed of 80 mph (129 kph), and 120 miles (193 km) of range at a cruising speed of 40 mph (64 kph) and a 7-inch (18-cm) hovering height. This might not seem like a lot today, but it is for a hovercraft – and it was even more impressive back then. In fact, it was enough to warrant comparisons to a Veyron on air cushions.
Unlike the Veyron, the legality of the Supercraft was never discussed in great detail. Hovercrafts can be used on water legally, since they’re classified as boats in most territories, and also on land, such as shores and muddy swamps near bodies of water. But you can’t “drive” them on the road as you would a car.
Pricing for the Supercraft started at $75,000, with a refundable $8,500 deposit necessary to get on the wait list. Mercier-Jones planned to make 10 Collector’s Edition units and then 50 more custom ones, before taking the hovercraft into mass-production sometime in 2025. The delivery for the first units was set for 2015, but the company never made the deadline.
The bottom line is that the Arosa idea lives on. Mr. Mercier, a mechanical engineer, says he’s experienced enough with hovercrafts to have been able to built the Arosa, and that the technology on it has been tested and confirmed. He also believes the Arosa, with its ability to “travel over land, water and a variety of terrain in between,” holds incredible market potential: first for the luxury segment, then for rescue and military applications, and then for everyone else.
Looking at it, one can only hope he’s right.