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

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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 vehicle startup Terrafugia.

Terrafugia is a US company based in Woburn, Massachusetts, founded in 2006 by MIT graduates. The company expects to deliver it to the market in 2023.

Terrafugia remains in the USA, but will team up with Geely Holding's own engineering resources. Chris Jaran, former managing director for Bell Helicopter China, was also appointed as a board member and will take over as CEO.

The acquisition has been approved by all necessary governmental regulators, including the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), The Paper reports. The question surrounding Terrafugia, then, appears centered on what business case can be made for self-flying cars. "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".

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".

The Chinese automotive giant, which also owns Volvo, said Terrafugia would benefit from its significant expertise and track record of innovation across the globe. It closed the day at HK$28.2, or 6.4% higher than Monday.

While most carmakers-including Geely-owned Volvo-are developing self-driving vehicle technologies in a bid to turn science-fiction fantasy into near-future reality, a handful of smaller companies cling to serious attempts at building flying cars.

Terrafugia more recently showed its next model, the TF-X, which boasts more car-like styling and twin electric motors for a total output of one megawatt (1,341 hp).

If you've been dreaming of a flying auto since you were a child, have patience - there may not be long to wait before flying cars become an ordinary part of everyday life around the world. And Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler has invested in German flying taxi startup Volocoptor, while Uber is working with NASA to develop a flying taxi service of its own.