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'It felt like Star Wars': Hoverbike makes US debut

DETROIT - A hoverbike that Japanese manufacturers plan to launch in the United States next year made its American debut at the Detroit Auto Show on Thursday, drawing perhaps inevitable comparisons to the speeder bikes of Star Wars.

The XTURISMO hoverbike is made by Japanese startup Aerwins Technologies and can fly for 40 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 100 kmh.

"I feel like I'm literally 15 years old, and I just got out of Star Wars and jumped on their bike," said Mr Thad Szott, co-chair of the auto show after taking a test drive - or, perhaps, a test hover.

"I mean, it's awesome! Of course, you have a little apprehension, but I was just so amped. I literally had goosebumps and feel like a little kid," he said.

The hoverbike is already on sale in Japan, and Mr Shuhei Komatsu, founder and CEO of Aerwins, said plans were underway to sell a smaller version in the US in 2023.

The price? A galactic US$777,000 (S$1.1 million) - although Mr Komatsu said the company hopes to get the cost down to US$50,000 for a smaller, electric model by 2025.

Earlier this month, Aerwins said it was looking to list on the Nasdaq via a merger with a special acquisition company that values it at US$600 million. - REUTERS

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