Group Lotus owner snaps up flying auto maker


Chinese automaker Geely has been given the all-clear to purchase would-be flying-car manufacturer Terrafugia, ending months of scrutiny after the acquisition was first reported last summer.

Meanwhile, founder of Terrafugia, Carl Dietrich, said: "We started Terrafugia with a vision to change the future of transportation with practical flying cars that enable a new dimension of personal freedom".

Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding believes that "Terrafugia is ideally positioned to change mobility as we now understand it and herald the development of a new industry in doing so". It's also hiring some big guns.

Terrafugia remains in the United States, but will team up with Geely Holding's own engineering resources.

Terrafugia, despite being founded by a quintet of MIT graduates, is hardly immune to such skepticism.

To help bring the "flying" side of flying vehicle to fruition, it has also brought on board Bell Helicopter China's former managing director, while Terrafugia's founder Carl Dietrich will become its Chief Technology Officer. This auto will be the first to hit the market, taking off in 2019 - although, in fairness, you're probably going to want to wait a year before purchase. It features a 2-seat cabin and a foldable wing. Using rechargeable batteries, the TF-X would have a range of 500 miles per flight.

It said it was targeting 280,000 units of the model, to be assembled at the Proton plant in Tanjung Malim, for the Southeast Asian market.

The US-based company unveiled the Transition in 2012 with a base price of $279,000 at the time, and received Federal Aviation Administration certification a year ago.

Francis Kwok Sze-chi, managing director at Freeman Securities in Hong Kong, told NQN: "Demand for "flying cars" is promising in China where traffic congestions are chronic headaches".

While most carmakers-including Geely-owned Volvo-are developing self-driving vehicle technologies in a bid to turn science-fiction fantasy into near-future reality, a handful of smaller companies cling to serious attempts at building flying cars.

Over a century later, no one not working for Spacely's Sprockets has made a viable business case for flying cars.