Call it car, call it aircraft, but Transition is in the wings

Call it car, call it aircraft, but Transition is in the wings
Credit: Terrafugia

The first flying car? Yes, we agree. The kind of image we associate with an animated movie or new video game.

Unless you go on a vendor's website and you discover this is for real, and stay tuned for next year. The name of the company is Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia and they're saying, get ready for next year when the first cars swing into production mode—that is, the first production models will go on sale in 2019.

This what the company stated: "Terrafugia, Inc. announced new features in the Transition production vehicle, a two-seat auto and aircraft, including updates to the interior, safety systems, motor, and flight instrumentation. The latest features and systems will be incorporated and verified in the next test vehicles. The first production vehicles will come to market in 2019."

The Terrafugia CEO is Chris Jaran. He said in a Bloomberg interview earlier this year that the product has wings that fold up; you park it in your garage, and when you are ready to get moving, you drive it to your nearby airport, unfold the wings, and in less than a minute take off to wherever you want to go.

If you want to call it car or aircraft, either way, it is a two-seater. And if you want to call the flying car by its official name, it is Transition.

News and Features Editor @ Roadshow, Kyle Hyatt, weighed in. "The Terrafugia Transition is a combination hybrid-electric road vehicle and pusher-style propeller-driven aircraft. It definitely looks more aircraft than car."

Now, if you want a description of which target users are likely to buy one, don't ask Hyatt because he would not know where to begin. "Like most two-in-one designs, it doesn't seem like it's particularly great at either flying or driving," he said, and "it's hard to imagine who the buyer for this would actually be."

Meanwhile, one might look for these features: The motor's hybrid mode involves an and a LiFePO4 ( chemistry) battery. The throttle incorporates a boost feature for a brief burst of extra power while flying.

As Jon Fingas in Engadget interpreted this, "the Transition now drives in hybrid mode with a combination of a conventional gas-powered motor and a safer-than-usual lithium-ion phosphate battery."

In the air, the Transition will have a cruise range of 400 miles. The top speeds are up to 100 miles per hour. The Transition on the ground will move at highway speeds.

CEO Jaran said in the Bloomberg interview that because they are a flying car they have to meet the regulations of the National Highway safety group as well as the FAA. He said they built in the safety aspects and safety represents quite a list because they have to satisfy safety items for both types of transport—air bags, seat belts, parachute.

Terrafugia is partnering with suppliers for avionics and parachutes. Dynon is providing the EFIS (Electrical Flight Information Systems) and BRS is providing a parachute system.

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, described as a global automotive group. ZGH is described on its website as a pioneer in the Chinese and global automotive industry.

"In line with our commitment to innovation and new mobility solutions, we acquired American flying car company, Terrafugia which plans to launch the world's first commercially available flying passenger vehicle in 2019 and the first Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) flying car in 2023."

Explore further

Flying car 'Transition' gets road approval from NHTSA

More information: … n-with-new-features/

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Jul 23, 2018
400 Miles; not a bad start I suppose. But at that mileage and only 100 mph only a daredevil would cross the ocean with this baby. If there's either a fuel leak or sudden burst of wind you toast. This is why it is called: Transition. Overall though it is not as progressive even in terms of transition; my way of saying I don't like it personally. The hybrid system is non-transitionary. The whole thing should work off the same combustion engine. And the wings should fold sideways, not in any other way. You would then add heavy duty braces, bolts and nuts once the wings are expanded; I would not trust built-in braces. It must be designed (body) for 400 mph speed, but flying speed should be 200 mph, and should be able to cruise for 650 miles.

Jul 23, 2018
"you drive it to the next airport"

Reality check: Airports are out of town. I.e.:
a) you seldom live near an airport
b) your destination is seldom near an airport

Both of which suggest to me that you would incur a pretty big detour compared to your regular route. Even if that is congested I hardly think this will save you time (roads to/from airports are congested at the same time, too).
So this isn't particularly useful for any kind of commute...and if you only occasionally need it for long trips then you can just go to an airport and catch a plane.

"in less than a minute take off"

Riiight. Reality check: At airports you have to deal with air traffic control. No, you're not going to hop in and take off as soon as you have your wings unfolded. No way, no how. Particularly not if more than a few of these are about.

As they say in the article:
"it's hard to imagine who the buyer for this would actually be."

Jul 23, 2018
"it's hard to imagine who the buyer for this would actually be."

Jay Leno?

Jul 23, 2018
True. If you price them steep enough selling a handful before folding up shop may be a profitable business model.

The "flying car" paradigm doesn't really work for me, though.

I find the following scenario more feasible: A flying n-copter-drone (for hire) that can land on skyscrapers or other places with open spaces where many people work (e.g. malls, factories...) and which can pick you up at spaces within walking distance to where you live.
Fully autonomous (which is a lot easier for flying drones than for cars because of lack of obstacles, fully known position of all other traffic participants, and easier pathing in 3D as compared to 2D on the ground).
This way there's no need for people to know how to fly (and no chance for them to screw up)

Jul 23, 2018
Most light sports aircraft (LSA) would be owners will probably be happier with an Aerotrak (EuroFox) A220 with one person foldable wings for $90k and just trailer the aircraft. Cheaper, faster, greater range and safer on the highway.

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