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Geely takes off with Terrafugia

Flying high: Terrafugia have developed a number of prototypes, including the TF-X that it expects to go on sale by 2023.

Chinese giant Geely acquires US-based flying car company Terrafugia

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Geely logo17 Nov 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

CHINESE automotive giant Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has acquired flying car company Terrafugia, adding to its stable of brands that also includes Volvo Cars.

The buyout means Geely will take control of the operations and assets of the US-based company that was founded in 2006 by five “award-winning” graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Announcing the acquisition in a statement, Terrafugia said it has made “considerable progress towards realising its vision of bringing a new form of mobility to the world”, as well as producing several working prototypes.

Terrafugia plans to launch its first flying car in 2019, while with the world’s first vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) flying car set to hit the market by 2023.

Under its new agreement which has been approved by regulators, Terrafugia will remain headquartered in the US and continue to focus on developing flying cars.

The company says it expects to benefit from Geely’s “significant expertise and track record of innovation” in the global auto industry.

Terrafugia is developing two flying cars, including the Transition, a folding-wing two-seat aircraft that has a petrol engine and can convert from driving to flight mode in less than a minute.

The Transition fits into a standard single-car garage, has a cruising range of 644km, a cruise speed of 161km/h and a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet.

The TF-X is a VTOL vehicle and does not require an airport to take off and land, offers an 805km range, 322km/h cruise speed and a 50-foot take-off radius and uses a petrol-electric powertrain.

Terrafugia would not disclose how much the deal was worth, but said Geely would expand the investment in R&D capabilities in the US and China, with the company suggesting it will mean more jobs for US engineers.

In the statement the company said it was fully committed to investing in the US “with production and engineering facilities to satisfy market demand”.

Geely has a presence in the US with Volvo Cars and the mooted South Carolina production facility that will produce 100,000 cars a year, it will expand in 2018/2019 when it launches the Lynk & Co brand in America.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group founder and chairman Li Shufu said the technology being developed by Terrafugia could change mobility completely.

“The team at Terrafugia have been at the forefront of believing in and realising the vision for a flying car and creating the ultimate mobility solution,” he said.

“This is a tremendously exciting sector and we believe that Terrafugia is ideally positioned to change mobility as we currently understand it and herald the development of a new industry in doing so. Our investment in the company reflects our shared belief in their vision and we are committed to extending our full support to Terrafugia, leveraging the synergies provided by our international operations and track record of innovation, to make the flying car a reality.”

Terrafugia founder and CTO Carl Dietrich said the acquisition would help the company achieve its goals.

“We started Terrafugia with a vision to change the future of transportation with practical flying cars that enable a new dimension of personal freedom,” he said. “Now as part of Geely Holding Group I am confident that we can reach that vision and subsequent commercial success by utilising the Groups shared global synergy.”

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