China's Geely buys Terrafugia, promises first U.S. flying vehicle by 2019

China's Geely buys Terrafugia, promises first U.S. flying vehicle by 2019

Automotive giant Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group Co Ltd has announced plans to roll out its first flying auto in 2019 after moving to acquire United States start-up firm Terrafugia which specialises in such vehicles.

"We started Terrafugia with a vision to change the future of transportation with practical flying cars that enable a new dimension of personal freedom", said Carl Dietrich, Terrafugia founder, in a statement.

Geely says it's investing in Terrafugia to make flying cars a reality. And I have no doubt the number of itchy scalps will grow tenfold now that the deal is done. And numerous companies, Terrafugia included, that are working on the technology have been known to over-promise and underperform. Geely isn't even the first automaker to be associated with flying cars. The Woburn, Massachusetts-based team has been flying its prototypes since 2009. And the startup even managed to sell a handful at a price of $279,000 each.

Terrafugia strives to market the first flying vehicle in the world with the Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) in 2019. It features a 2-seat cabin and a foldable wing.

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".

"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".

The price tag of the acquisition has not been disclosed, but Geely will acquire all outstanding shares and appoint three board members including Nathan Yu Ning, its vice president of worldwide business. A former managing director at Bell Helicopter, Chris Jaran, has been appointed CEO of Terrafugia.

A new research institute has already been set up, and the US-based engineering team's numbers have tripled. Of course, Terrafugia will benefit from the expertise and success in the automotive industry of the Geely Group. The company is also the latest in a line of Geely's acquisitions outside its native China, including Volvo seven years ago as well as a more recent purchase of a 49.9% equity stake in Malaysian automaker Proton, and a 51% stake in British sports vehicle maker Lotus.

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