Flying auto company Terrafugia bought by China's Geely


Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which owns both Volvo and Lotus, has just finalized its purchase of Terrafugia, a company that specializes in airborne automobiles.

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

Terrafugia had aimed to bring a flying vehicle to market in 2019, which is a fantastically long gestation period for a company founded in 2006.

The company's first product will be the Transition, which is promised for a market launch in 2019.

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". The U.S. company has around 100 engineers, recently tripled in anticipation of fund injection from Geely.

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To help bring the "flying" side of flying auto 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. Although the company will be under the wing of the Chinese, it will maintain autonomy over its major research and development capabilities and production facilities, while looking to synergize with Geely in accelerating development.

According to The Verge, Terrafugia's flying vehicle model, named Transition, a road-ready prop plane with retractable wings, received approval from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012, essentially making it street-legal there. "Now as part of Geely Holding Group, I am confident that we can reach that vision and subsequent commercial success by utilizing the groups' shared global synergy".

However, the company did not disclose any financial details concerning the deal, The China Daily newspaper reported today.

The company's other prototype model, named TF-X, features retractable wings that allow the aircraft to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, The Verge said in a report. Geely isn't even the first automaker to be associated with flying cars.

Geely bought the Swedish passenger carmaker in 2010, and the owner of United Kingdom taxi producer The London Taxi Company in 2012.