Two years ago Terrafugia shuttered its San Francisco-area research and development office, which had been engaged in concept/design development of the company’s TF-2 eVTOL tiltrotor urban air mobility project. Geely is continuing work on a UAM vehicle (TF-2A), but only in China, according to the trade publication eVTOL.com.
While Geely may see continued promise in the eVTOL project, it may have concluded that it was too far behind in the nascent U.S. urban air mobility market. The company may then have pressed to get FAA certification for the Transition to have something (U.S. validation) to take back to China.
Colburn told me in late January that Terrafugia planned to attain U.S. Department of Transportation/NHTSA roadworthiness certification for the Transition by 2022 followed by U.S. sales of the flying car, but the Transition would need extensive crash testing, including side, quartering and rear impact tests.
Colburn says the Transition has completed one head-on crash test but its design would likely have to evolve significantly to meet DOT safety and environmental regulations. The time and capital needed to accomplish a redesign and meet regulatory hurdles would surely have challenged the company’s plans to launch sales in 2022.
An exit from the U.S. market just as likely stems from a calculus of future sales potential for Terrafugia’s flying car, says Schmidt.
“The Transition is too expensive with too limited utility to really find any significant sales here,” he says.
With a sales price rumored to be $350,000 to $400,000 — Colburn confirmed it would be “well north” of $250,000 — the Transition would cost considerably more than almost all other light sport aircraft while lacking performance on par with many.