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Volvo’s owner, Geely, takes a leap on flying cars of the future

By Barry Park, 16 Nov 2017 News

GEELY VOLVO flYing car

US flying car maker Terrafugia joins Swedish car brand Volvo as Geely adds the air to its growing vehicle portfolio

GEELY, the Chinese owner of premium Swedish car maker Volvo, will now also be known as Geely, the flying car company.

The fast-growing car maker yesterday took over control of Terrafugia, the decade-old, US-based business that hopes to one day have a car on sale that – just like Scaramanga’s AMC Matador in the mid-’70s Bond flick The Man with the Golden Gun – spreads its wings and takes to the skies.

“Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (‘Geely Holding’) is pleased to announce it has entered into an agreement with Terrafugia Inc, a US-based company focused on the innovation, engineering and production of flying cars and future technologies, to acquire its operations and assets in their entirety,” Geely said in a statement.

geelys flying car
Under the terms of the agreement, Terrafugia will stay in its US home while it works on a mass-produced flying car that’s ready for release in 2019, and a separate version that can take off vertically like a helicopter that it aims to have on sale by 2023.

Geely adds Lotus sports cars to Volvo, Lynk&Co portfolio

Terrafugia has already developed two flying prototypes, with an estimated retail cost of about $US270,000 ($A350,000). It has spawned the Transition, a rear-engined mash-up of a road car and light aircraft that seats two people and takes a minute to fold its wings almost like a bird to fit in a standard garage. Top speed is 160km/h, while range is about 650km.

vintage flying car
The flying car maker’s other idea is the TF-X, a twin-prop flying car that was originally expected to lob in 2018, but has hit a few timeline hiccups. According to Terrafugia, it will have a range of 800 kilometres – almost enough to fly between Sydney and Melbourne – at speeds of up to 320km/h.

The idea of a flying car isn’t new. Uber, the ride-sharing service that’s turning the long-established taxi industry on its head, also wants to expand its offerings to incorporate air as well as road transport. Late last year it published a white paper on how it believed the car industry could jump on the urban air transport bandwagon.

"We also believe that in the long-term, VTOLs [Vertical Takeoffs or Landings] will be an affordable form of daily transportation for the masses, even less expensive than owning a car," Uber said, introducing its name for the flying car program as Uber Elevate.

Uber elevate
Geely’s interest in Terrafugia could also help it build new generations of Volvo-badged cars. Polestar, formerly Volvo’s performance sub-brand, will soon become a standalone brand, with the car maker setting up a Chinese factory to initially develop three models including a two-door grand tourer, an SUV, and a more mainstream passenger sedan with a performance bent.

The Polestar 1, as the 2.0-litre supercharged, turbocharged plug-in hybrid four-seat GT that will headline the relaunched Polestar will be known, will widely use a plastic-reinforced carbonfibre body in the interests of adding torsional strength and reducing weight. Unfortunately for us, it won’t be built in right-hand drive.