Automotive giant Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group Co Ltd has announced plans to roll out its first flying auto in 2019 after moving to acquire U.S. start-up firm Terrafugia which specialises in such vehicles. At the time, the idea of Volvo's parent company trying to build and sell flying cars had many people scratching their heads.
"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 worldwide operations and track record of innovation, to make the flying vehicle a reality". And I have no doubt the number of itchy scalps will grow tenfold now that the deal is done. Geely isn't even the first automaker to be associated with flying cars.
Meanwhile, Terrafugia founder Carl Dietrich is staying on as the company's chief technology officer. Terrafugia focuses on engineering, innovation and production of flying cars and on future technologies. The Woburn, Massachusetts-based team has been flying its prototypes since 2009. While it still requires a runway for takeoff and landing, Terrafugia has a more advanced design known as the Transition TF-X that promises vertical takeoff and landing and even better performance. It features a 2-seat cabin and a foldable wing.
"This is an extremely exciting sector and we believe Terrafugia is ideally positioned to change the mobility as we now understand it and (we) herald the development of a new industry in doing so". Geely's vice president for worldwide business Nathan Yu Ning will become chairman of Terrafugia, and three other Geely executives will join the company's board.
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Chris Jaran, Terrafugia's newly appointed CEO, said the expansion of the company's R&D capabilities would be prioritized, according to Xinhuanet.
In anticipation of this transaction, the Company's team of engineers has tripled over the past three months with Geely Holding's approval and with Geely being fully committed to investing further in the company and creating additional jobs after completion of the acquisition.
Geely is one of China's most acquisitive vehicle manufacturers, having taken control of Volvo Cars in 2010 and the UK's London Taxi Company in 2012.