Terrafugia is that flying car company you read about every sixth months or so that continually disappoints you by remaining Just A Thing On The Internet, and not actually a thing in the real world. But now, in a strange turn of events, The South China Morning Post says Volvo’s parent company Geely has bought the flying car company. I have no clue why.
China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. has been getting its automotive-imperialism on lately, buying Volvo back in 2010, then more recently buying a large chunk of Proton, and a 51 percent majority share of Lotus. Now, according to a source at the South China Morning Post, the Hangzhou, China-based company has acquired Terrafugia, a startup founded by MIT aerospace engineers and MBA students.
The flying car company’s mission is to “create practical flying cars that enable a new dimension of personal freedom,” and ever since its founding in 2006, the world has been hearing rumors that flying cars would enter the market in a couple years. But then, a couple of years passed, and even though the company’s flying car—dubbed the Transition—actually made its first flight in 2009, the company itself hasn’t really gotten off the ground.
First, we were promised production-ready flying cars by 2009. Then 2011. Then 2013ish. Then 2015 or 2016. If you want to see the entire timeline of failed promises, you can read about it here. But suffice it to say, with all of its missed deadlines, Terrafugia has painted itself as a company, with questions legitimacy at best.
But maybe the endlessly passed deadlines will come to an end with some of that sweet, sweet Geely money, which has turned Volvo from the brink of collapse to one of the finest luxury automakers on the planet.
As for why Geely would want Terrafugia, I’m honestly not sure. The Chinese company has been fiddling with future connected technology via their “Smartphone on Wheels” brand, Lynk and Co., so this kind of “out there” R&D investment isn’t really all too strange for them.
Maybe they’re after some of Terrafugia’s carbon fiber and weight savings expertise? After all, the Massachusetts-based company has had to keep weight down to be certified as a “Light Sport Aircraft” by the FAA, a key part in making their flying cars viable for the street and the sky.
I’ve reached out to Geely to confirm The South China Morning Post’s report, and to provide some insight on why Geely would be interested in acquiring a company that specializes in Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft. I’ll update this when I hear back.