Taking on Terrafugia
Geely, the Chinese company behind the automaker Volvo, recently announced their acquisition of Terrafugia, a company founded by five MIT graduates that is working on a prototype flying car. This move positions Geely to join a quickly growing flock of companies jockeying for the first mass-marketed flying car.
Terrafugia, a ten-year-old company, has already produced the "Transition," a bulky vehicle with unfoldable wings that can go from driving to flying, with a horizontal takeoff like an airplane, in a few minutes. The company states that the Transition is already road legal, and they are already accepting $10,000 deposits for those who'd like to reserve one.
Electrek reports that Terrafugia also developed an electric version of their vehicle, the TF-X, last year. The TF-X will reportedly feature vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), like a helicopter, and will have a range of 500 miles.
“The team at Terrafugia have been at the forefront of believing in and realizing the vision for a flying car and creating the ultimate mobility solution," said Li Shufu, Founder and Chairman of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, in a statement about the acquisition. "Our investment in the company reflects our shared belief in their vision and we are committed to extending our full support to Terrafugia, leveraging the synergies provided by our international operations and track record of innovation, to make the flying car a reality.”
Flying Cars for the Masses
Putting aside the regulatory headache that flying cars will likely present, this is a reality that many companies are pushing for. This includes a partnership between Uber and NASA, Toyota (with a target for the 2020 Olympics), and even DeLorean, the company behind the flying car in the Back to the Future movies.
Russian weapons maker Kalashnikov has already unveiled their flying vehicle prototype, and the small Dutch company PAL-V has stated that they plan to fly their own on a voyage around the world.
According to Electrek, Terrafugia is tripling their engineering staff following the Geely deal, and they plan to bring their first vehicle to market in 2019. Their first VTOL aircraft is expected to follow in 2023.