Terrafugia, the company behind the Transition car-plane from 2012, is back with a new flying car design dubbed TF-X.
Described as being “the flying car for all of us”, the four-seat TF-X features a plug-in hybrid powertrain which powers both its wheels when on the ground and two electrically driven rotors for flight. It’s capable of vertical take-off and landing, as opposed to needing a runway to become airborne.
Once in the air, the TF-X has a claimed range of 500 miles, although Terrafugia hasn’t specified a cruising speed. The firm’s first model, the Transition, can travel up to 410 miles at a cruising speed of 100mph. The Transition is powered by a 99bhp Rotax aircraft engine that’s capable of returning a claimed 35mpg on the road.
When in flight, the TF-X is effectively autonomous, with its makers saying the car can avoid other air traffic, bad weather and restricted air space and navigate to a pre-specified landing zone - and pre-selected backup landing zones - by itself, although manual controls and overrides also exist. A final landing can only be approved by the driver, and a full-vehicle parachute system acts as a back-up.
Terrafugia says that learning to drive the TF-X is likely to take just five hours, and that the final design “should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile". The vehicle will be able to fit into a standard single-car garage.
The first exterior design for the TF-X was unveiled in 2013, with development to bring the car to production scheduled to last between eight and 12 years. That means the TF-X won’t be on sale until 2021 at the earliest, with Terrafugia saying the vehicle will be priced to compete with current high-end luxury cars.
With the Transition currently costing $279,000 (about £180,000), a starting price of over £200,000 is likely for the TF-X.
US-based Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by aeronautics and management graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company currently has 20 employees.
Flying cars - the rivals
AeroMobil 3.0 - This two-seat Slovakian design was first flown in 2013. It uses the same Rotax 912 engine as the TF-X and has a claimed range of 435 miles.
Skyrunner - Unlike most other flying cars, the Skyrunner doesn’t use a fixed wing design. Instead, a 1.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine provides thrust to achieve powered parachute flight. The car was unveiled in 2013 and costs from £74,282.
Moller Skycar - Another VTOL-capable design, the Skycar features seating for four and has a claimed range of 805 miles and a top speed of 331mph.
Xplorair PX200 - The 660kg single-seat PX200 has only so far been shown as a 1/2-scale model. A full-size radio-controlled prototype is scheduled to be flown at the Paris air show in 2017, before manned flights begin in 2020.