It seems like something out of The Jetsons, but it's real. Or at least it will be soon.
Terrafugia is perhaps just a few regulations and one very powerful battery away from clearing most of the hurdles it needs to create a flying car that consumers in the market for the equivalent of a super luxury sedan could afford.
It's a dream that Carl Dietrich, the company's co-founder, CEO and CTO, has been working at steadily since at least 2006.
"I think it's ridiculous we don't have these things out there, right now," Dietrich said, speaking of the flying cars he's helping to design. "There is so much potential for an economic benefit to society if we have things like this. There have been a number of studies recently that have quantified the economic impact of traffic congestion ... just for the U.S., I think it was estimated at $87 billion to $125 billion a year. And that's just comparing it to driving at normal speeds, without traffic."
So, that's part of the reason why Dietrich and Terrafugia want your car to take wing, but it's also been part of his lifelong passion for flight. Even at a young age, Dietrich wondered why small aircraft weren't developing toward a more practical, everyday transportation option.
The Transition: Prototype for the Terrafugia Vision
With a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour in the air and gas mileage of about 35 to the gallon on the ground, Terrafugia's first model of flying car exists already.
"We're flying a second-generation prototype, right now," Dietrich said of the Transition. "But yes, it's beyond the proof of concept stage."
"One of the biggest problems that pilots face is that flying little airplanes is a very weather-sensitive activity," said Dietrich. "You may fly somewhere, and the weather changes and you're stuck. You have to make other travel arrangements. It's not something you can count on. With the Transition, you can count on getting to where you want to go. It may take a little longer, if you have to drive instead of fly, but you still get there, or you get home."
But only if you have a pilot's license, because this is still considered and a plane and not a car or something in between. And the price of a Transition? When it comes to market, it'll likely cost about $279,000, putting it in the range of consumers who'd buy, say, a super sports car, something of that nature.
The next generation from Terrafugia, the follow-up to the Transition, should prove a bit more universally affordable.