Geely buys Terrafugia to make "flying auto a reality"

Lloyd Doyle
November 14, 2017

Zhejiang Geely, the Chinese holding company that controls the Volvo, Lynk & Co., Geely and Lotus brands, announced on Monday plans to fully acquire American flying auto startup Terrafugia. Geely already tripled its team of engineers in anticipation of the transaction.

Terrafugia was set up by graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006. The company has been working on the development of flying vehicles since inception.

Apart from the 2019 model, the company is also working on one that can take off and land vertically that it hopes it will be able to launch by 2023. Geely didn't disclose the terms of the acquisition in an emailed statement. The company has recruited former managing director of Bell Helicopter, Chris Jaran to run Terrafugia, while company founder Carl Dietrich is staying on as the company's CTO.

Geely, which owns a stake in national carmaker Proton, said it had received the necessary approval for the deal, including from the United States government's Committee on Foreign Investment, to take over all of Terrafugia's operations and assets.

According to The Verge, Terrafugia's flying vehicle model, named Transition, a road-ready prop plane with retractable wings, received approval from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012, essentially making it street-legal there. "Now as part of Geely Holding Group, I am confident that we can reach that vision and subsequent commercial success by utilizing the groups' shared global synergy".

Terrafugia will remain headquartered in the U.S. under its new Chinese owners, while benefitting from the Zhejiang Geely group's investment, not to mention its experience within the automotive industry. Shares in Geely Automobile Holdings, the Chinese company's core Hong Kong-listed subsidiary, soared to an all-time high of 28.4 Hong Kong dollars, immediately following the announcement on Tuesday. Geely isn't even the first automaker to be associated with flying cars.

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