Can you imagine levitating right over traffic and getting to work in a flying car? It seems unlikely to happen anytime soon, but a growing number of companies — including Uber and Airbus — want to change that outlook sooner rather than later. The latest entrant in the budding segment could be Geely, the Chinese company that owns Volvo.
Geely recently agreed to purchase Terrafugia, according to the South China Morning Post. The startup was founded by a group of five Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates. Since its inception in 2006, Terrafugia’s sole mission has been to make flying cars a reality, and bring them to the masses with a relatively affordable price tag.
There’s no technology to build upon and improve, unless you live in an episode of The Jetsons, so Terrafugia started with a blank slate. Ultimately, it wants to develop a vehicle classified as a Light Sport Aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to Motor Authority. The aircraft also needs to comply with the regulations that apply to all passenger cars.
Terrafugia is experimenting with two models, though neither have reached the prototype stage yet. The first is a more basic aircraft named Transition that has 400 miles of range, and a top through-the-clouds speed of 100 mph. The wings fold down when the Transition is on the ground, which explains its name.
A second prototype with more advantages named the TF-X is also in the works. It will have a longer range, thanks in part to a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, and unlike the Transition, it will be able to take off and land vertically.
Terrafugia’s Transition will be priced at $279,000. That sounds like a lot of money, but can you really put a price on the world’s very first flying car? Deliveries are about three years away, though it’s worth noting the company has pushed back its deadlines several times. Geely’s deep pockets might help it finally reach the production stage.
Only time will tell whether investing in Terrafugia will pay off for Volvo’s parent company. You still have a few years to start saving money — and get over your fear of heights.