What's next? Flying Volvos? Cool.
So this is happening for some reason, according to The Detroit Bureau. China’s Geely Holding Group Co., Volvo’s parent company, has bought Terrafugia, the flying car company we’ve written about from time to time. Why does Geely want Terrafugia, which was started by a group of MIT alum? No clue. It’s kind of a weird purchase, to be honest, but to Terrafugia’s credit, its "roadable aircraft" completed initial flight testing back in 2012 and has been in continued development ever since.
If you recall, the Terrafugia literally looks like the mutt child of a small airplane and distorted car. On pavement, it can reach a top speed of 115 mph and returns 35 mpg. But it’s not like the DeLorean Time Machine’s hover conversion; it needs about 1,700 feet of tarmac in order to take off. Switching from car to airplane mode requires the use of an automated electromechanical folding wing that, when retracted, allows it to fit on regular roads with ease. "Don’t think of it as a car that flies. Think of it as a plane that drives," Terrafugia’s CEO told TDB back in 2012. So what does Geely seriously want with Terrafugia? Heavily modify Volvos, or any of its other car brands, with Terrafugia tech? Doubtful.
Our best guess is that Geely is mainly interested in Terrafugia’s lightweight development methods. Terrafugia has already missed production-ready deadlines, so perhaps Geely wants to get things back on track (or in the air)? Or is this purchase nothing more than another case of a Chinese company with way too much money in the bank? We’re still waiting for an official announcement from Geely so hopefully we'll have more details soon.