It’s that time of year again! Every six months or so, the media rave about the latest advancements in flying car technology. They insist your flying car is ALMOST HERE! No, no it’s not.
We’ve been waiting on flying cars since at least the 1920s. And countless companies of the 20th century tried to make civilian flying cars a mainstream reality. But lately the media have been fixated on a company called Terrafugia, and their Transition model flying car. They even have a new make-believe model they’re promoting called the TF-X.
Admittedly, the company looks slightly more reputable than your average vaporware huckster like Paul Moller. But Terrafugia has left many, many broken promises in its wake. They’re certainly good at raising money, but will they ever deliver? Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the times Terrafugia have claimed that their flying car is just a couple of years (or even months) away.
“The first Transition will fly in November. Customers will have them by the end of 2009.” [October 8, 2008 Popular Science]
“Carl Dietrich always dreamed of building a flying car. Instead, the pragmatic inventor ended up creating what he calls a roadable aircraft, a plane that folds up its wings on landing and takes to the highway. In 2010, after three years of development, his vehicle, the Transition, will be available to customers for $US194,000 a pop. [December 4, 2008 Fortune]
“Terrafugia wants to deliver the first Transition to a customer by the end of 2009 and go into large-scale production by 2012.” [May 8, 2008 Xconomy]
“The Terrafugia Transition had its first flight March 5. In two years, said Paxton’s Sam Schweighart, you’ll be able to get one for your own garage.” [April 12, 2009 Associated Press]
“[Terrafugia founder] Dietrich plans to begin deliveries at the end of 2011. The price: $US194,000. A refundable deposit of $US10,000 will hold your place in line. He’d like to sell maybe 200 a year but can make money at half that volume.” [May 9, 2009 Kerrville Daily Times]
“If cars had wings, they could fly — and that just might happen beginning next year. Terrafugia, based in Woburn, Mass., says it plans to deliver its car-plane, the Transition, to customers by the end of 2011.” [July 2, 2010 Associated Press]
“The company developing the world’s first “flying car” announced on Wednesday that low-volume production of the hybrid vehicle will lake off in Massachusetts, perhaps by the end of next year.” [September 9, 2010 Associated Press]
“A flying car retailing for $US227,000 could be on roads in a matter of months — and customers are already lining up to be the first to get their hands on one, its maker claims.” [July 18, 2011 Fox News]
“So far, 100 Transitions have been reserved — that’s a backlog worth some $US25 million (£16m). Terrafugia hopes to begin delivery of the flying cars late 2012, with a starting price around $US279,000. Tough UK licensing laws mean the vehicle is only available for US customers, but, says Dietrich, ‘we’re looking into Europe.'” [December 31, 2011 Wired UK]
“Flying cars aren’t just science fiction anymore. Woburn, Mass.-based Terrafugia Inc. said Monday that its prototype flying car has completed its first flight, bringing the company closer to its goal of selling the flying car within the next year.” [April 3, 2012 Associated Press]
“The Transition is up for order now if you’re convinced, the first units set to be delivered next year. However, Terrafugia only plans to deliver 10 of these next year and orders already number in the hundreds.” [April 4, 2012 Engadget]
“The company says it currently has about 100 deposits for the $US279,000 multi-purpose vehicle, and production is scheduled to begin in 2015.” [August 1, 2013 Fox News]
“Even though its first flying car is still at least two years away, a Massachusetts aerospace firm has unveiled a new design for a future product after that, one more akin to a helicopter than a plane. Like its winged Transition flying car, its first product that is now scheduled for delivery in 2015, Terrafugia’s TF-X would drive like a car on the ground, then take to the air like a plane. But instead of requiring drivers to find a runway, they could merely head to the local helipad — or a parking lot — and take off using tilt-rotor technology.” [November 25, 2013 USA Today]
“You’re going to have to wait a while before you get behind the wheel of a TF-X. Development is expected to take roughly 8 to 12 years. If the TF-X finally goes to market, it’s estimated to cost about as much as a very high-end luxury vehicle. However, if you can’t wait that long, the Transition flying vehicle, mentioned earlier, is nearly ready for sale. Designers are still working through product development and the federal regulatory process. If you can spare about $US280,000, the Transition could be yours.” [May 1, 2014 Discover]
Pictures: LOL WUT from Terrafugia’s website (with obviously alterations); Terrafugia’s Transition flying car at the gas station from the April 24, 2009, Winnipeg Free Press