Volvo’s parent company, the Chinese multinational motor manufacturer Geely, acquired flying car startup Terrafugia in November last year and promises to have its first flying car on the market in 2019. Geely plans to follow this up with the world’s first vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL), like the TF-X prototype pictured above, by 2023.
Boston-based Terrafugia was founded by five MIT graduates in 2006 and is considered a world-leader in flying-car technology.
Gleely’s first model will be a plug-in hybrid vehicle with a range of 800 kilometres, with a two-seater cabin and folding wings, so that it can fit in a typical car lane. It is expected to cost $279 000 (about R3.3-million).
Although details of the acquisition have not been made public, according to the South China Morning Post, Terrafugia’s newly appointed CEO Chris Jaran (previous managing director of Bell Helicopters) said that, “the support that Geely has pledged to make Terrafugia’s vision a commercial reality is unprecedented.” The former CEO and co-founder of Terrafugia, Carl Dietrich (shown in the video above) remains as CTO.
Geely is not the only company pressing forward with the flying car technology; Uber is developing flying car services in Dubai that it hopes to launch in 2020, Google’s Larry Page has invested up to US$100 million in two flying car start-ups and Boeing recently bought Aurora Flight Sciences, a specialist in unmanned planes.