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'It felt like Star Wars': hoverbike makes U.S. debut

·1 min read

By Eric Cox

(Reuters) - A hoverbike that the Japanese manufacturers plan to launch in the United States next year made its U.S. 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 62 miles per hour (100 kph).

"I feel like I'm literally 15 years old and I just got out of 'Star Wars' and jumped on their bike," said 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."

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

The price? A galactic $777,000 - although Komatsu said the company hopes to get the cost down to $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 $600 million.

(Reporting by Eric Cox; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Christopher Cushing)