Volvo’s parent company buys Terrafugia to launch a flying car by 2019
Volvo’s parent company envisions a world where in two years time, real-life flying cars could be hitting the open roads (and skies), finally fulfilling all of our sci-fi inspired fantasies of bi-modal travel.
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the Chinese parent of auto brands Volvo and Lotus, just finalized its latest acquisition to snap up next-gen transportation startup Terrafugia. The company is best known for its futuristic flying car designs, the Transition and the TF-X — and with the new corporate support from Geely, Terrafugia is ready to set new targets for the crafts to be ready for flight.
Terrafugia says that it will aim to offer consumers a shot at personal street-to-sky transport by releasing the Transition to the market in 2019, then following up with the more accessible TF-X rig by 2023.
The two vehicles promise to offer drivers… er, flyers, different experiences to get in the air. The Transition, which has been in development since 2009, has retractable wings and requires a full runway to take off into the skies. Terrafugia has already shown off footage of a working prototype, which the company has flown in OshKosh, Wisconsin.
The company says the final production version of the craft will have a cruising speed of 100 mph, with about 400 miles of flight range. You can even reserve one now, if you’re willing to wait two years and fork over $10,000. Terrafugia founder Carl Dietrich told us the final cost will probably be around $279,000 back in 2013, however, so the down payment isn’t that much, considering.
The TF-X is a different beast. The vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft is closer to the flying taxi designs shown off recently by Uber and flown in Dubai than the Transition, since it won’t require a runway to get airborne. Unlike those VTOLs, however, the TF-X retains the ability to drive on the roads, making it a true flying car.
Terrafugia says the TF-X will run on an all-electric system, with an estimated cruising speed of 200 mph and range of 500 miles. While the company says it’ll be more accessible to consumers by the time it’s fully developed, cost estimates haven’t been specified. For now, expect the TF-X to cost around as much as a high-end luxury car.
The plans to launch flying taxis by Uber and the city of Dubai depend on public programs to put the vehicles into service around 2020— but private crafts like these from Terrafugia and competitors like AeroMobil and Lilium could give wealthy enthusiasts a chance to get in the air first. Either way, our skies may be about to get more crowded.