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Future models - Terrafugia - Transition

New York show: Flying car finally lands

Meet George Jetson: The Terrafugia Transition takes to Main Street, USA.

$279,000 Terrafugia Transition flying car comes down to earth at New York show

Terrafugia logo5 Apr 2012

ONE of the more intriguing cars revealed at the New York auto show this week is not really a car, but a two-seat personal plane capable of being driven on public roads.

The Terrafugia Transition is set to become the world’s first commercially available flying car at an anticipated price of $US279,000 ($A271,000) – although insurance industry experts suggest premiums could be as high as $60,000 a year.

About 100 people are believed to have placed refundable deposits of $10,000 to be among the first people to enter the real-world age of The Jetsons.

The first customer vehicle is expected to be delivered within a year.

The Transition’s wings fold up automatically, just like a modern convertible roof – at the push of a button by the ‘driver’ from inside the cockpit – enabling the Transition to be parked in a regular single-car garage.

In car mode, it is 6.0 metres long, 2.3m wide and 2.0m high, making it less than a metre longer than Mercedes-Benz S-class and about the same width, though half a metre taller.

Power comes from a 1.4-litre Rotax 912 flat-four-cylinder engine that produces 75kW of power and runs on regular unleaded petrol, enabling the Transition to cruise in the air at 185km/h.

197 center imageOn the ground, the engine drives the rear wheels and returns fuel economy of 8.1L/100km, but no acceleration figures have been provided for the vehicle, which only weighs 650kg at “take-off”.

Less than two weeks ago, the production prototype successfully completed its first flight from Plattsburgh International Airport in New York – three years after a retired US Air Force colonel completed the maiden eight-minute voyage in a Proof of Concept prototype.

The flying car incorporates automotive safety features such as a crumple zone and airbags for the driver and passenger, but was last year granted three groundbreaking exemptions by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

These included relaxation of the requirements for tyres, windscreen material and vehicle weight.

The Transition uses a tough polycarbonate because traditional laminated glass would add significant weight and could fracture in the event of bird impact.

Significantly, Terrafugia – which is apparently Latin for “escape from land” – chose an auto show to unveil the production vehicle rather than an aero show.

Terrafugia Inc CEO and co-founder Carl Dietrich said the Transition was a significant step closer to being a commercial reality.

“The first flight of the production prototype is a major milestone for Terrafugia,” he said.

“With this flight, the team demonstrated an ability to accomplish what had been called an impossible dream (and) we look forward to continuing to show that the challenges of bringing a practical street legal airplane to market can be overcome.

“This is a very exciting time for Terrafugia. We are on our way up – literally and figuratively.”

Chief test pilot Phil Meteer said he was looking forward to further testing, both on the ground and in the air.

“It’s a remarkable vehicle, both on the road and in the air,” he said after the inaugural flight.

“When I drove it into the shop, literally from the road through the garage door, I was amazed that I had just flown it at Plattsburgh a few days before.

“A long-overdue mode of transportation and fun is just around the corner.”

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