Remember Terrafugia? If you’re a long-time reader you do, because I wrote frequently about that Massachusetts effort to build a flying car (“roadable aircraft” was their preferred term), which basically looked like a funky Honda Civic with giant folding wings and a tail. You’d drive to the airport, unfold the wings and fly to another airport, then fold them back up and drive to your destination.
Terrafugia was bought by the Chinese carmaker Geely in 2017. After a decade of work it got FAA approval in 2021 but then closed early in 2021. (I’m embarrassed to say I missed the news at the time; can I blame COVID coverage? A Forbes story says layoffs were timed with Chinese new year.)
Geely seems to have killed any flying-car dreams and are bragging about electric VTOL aircraft – basically huge, people-carrying drones – including one called Aerofugia. No “terra” for them any more.
I’m not surprised, in a way. It seems to me that electric drones have done an end-around on the idea of a “flying car,” making the idea of individual aerial transportation feasible after six decades of failed efforts with internal combustion engines. Not everybody agrees with that, however – especially the New Hampshire dealership of PAL-V, A Dutch firm making a three-wheeled road-worthy gyrocopter that it claims is getting close to approval in the US.