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Maybe you remember Terrafugia, the company that brought a flying car to the 2012 New York Auto Show’s hallway.
It’s not science fiction any more. A company called Terrafugia was on hand at this week’s New York Auto Show, showing off a flying car – with video proof that it both flies and drives.
Actually more of a driving airplane, the Terrafugia team has been working on this car for years, completely revamping a prototype model they built back in 2009.
To find out more about the aptly-named Transition, how it works and what it costs, watch AutoGuide’s first look video below.
GALLERY: Terrafugia Transition
It’s not science fiction, it’s a genuine flying car. Unveiled today at the New York International Auto Show the Terrafugia Transition is actually more of a street-legal airplane designed for occasional use on the road.
Still, it is certified for the street using an aircraft engine that powers the rear wheels and can get 35 mpg with a top speed of about 80 mph. Press a button and the wings fold out. You’ll need about 1700 feet of runway space (no taking off from the street) and once airborne the Transition can cruise at 120 mph for a range of 450 miles.
Inside the cockpit there are car and airplane controls with a steering wheel, brake and gas pedal. Once the wings are out, you can then operate the console-mounted throttle, the control stick that rises up from the floor and the two additional pedals that control the rudders.
Awaiting its final flight certification the Transition retails for $279,000 and company representatives say a total of 100 units have already been pre-ordered.
The Terrafugia Transition has been a work in progress since 2006, but will finally show off its unique design at the 2012 New York Auto Show.
The Transition is being called the first practical street-legal airplane by the company, and will no doubt garner some attention when it hits the show floor. The car has folding wings and a full propeller drive system that allows it to take flight as well as drive on the street.
Terrafugia will need to impress the right people, as the Transition is estimated to cost $279,000.
For that price, the eccentric consumer gets a small airplane that fits in a single-car garage. The Transition also runs off super unleaded gas instead of airplane fuel and is able to drive safely on the road, according to the company.
The same 100-hp engine capable of spinning the rear-mounted propeller or powering the wheels on the ground, both via a continuously variable transmission.
Terrafugia’s video explains most aspects of the car in detail. You can watch it below.
That’s right—the only flying car you can buy today has just been approved for terrestrial driving by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization had to grant a special exemption for the Terrafugia Transition, under the provision of “roadable aircraft.”
Unlike most light aircraft, the Transition needs automotive technology such as crumple zones and dual airbags to remain roadworthy. And like a car—or an expensive one, anyway—the Transition features a carbon fiber safety cage and takes unleaded gasoline, albeit high-octane. Hey, airplanes aren’t cheap.
The Transition could allow pilots to land early and drive to their destination if they encounter bad weather, as the car has a 500-mile range. Its 26-foot wings can fold in less than a minute, and can reach 115mph in the air and 65mph on the roads. And so far, how many rich people have sprung for this proof-of-concept? At $250,000, the first 100 orders have all been accounted for.
Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
Go from the roads to the friendly skies in one fell swoop in the Terrafugia Transition roadable aircraft. The first of its kind, the Transition can make the transition from the road to the sky, offering its owners the ultimate in convenience.
And now, with a recent weight exemption approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transition is one step closer to your driveway. Allowed an extra 110 pounds of weight, it has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,430 pounds. This is the same weight allowance made for aircraft designed to operate on water. It falls into the Light Sport Aircraft category, and other planes in the class are limited to a maximum takeoff weight of 1,320 pounds.
The reason for the extra weight, according to Anna Dietrich, Terrafugia’s chief operating officer, is due to its safety features. Since it’s designed to be on the road, it’s going to need equipment not found in other light aircraft. These features include a protective safety cage, airbags and an energy absorbing crumple zone.
Planes that hold the light sport aircraft designation can carry two people, and the pilot has to have a Sport Pilot certificate, which requires 20 hours of flight training. “There are actually programs that you can do in about two weeks,” said Dietrich. “You can take a couple weeks off of work and come home a pilot, so it’s a very accessible, very exciting way of getting into aviation and giving yourself that additional freedom and flexibility.”
Taking about the same amount of time as putting down a convertible top, the Transition goes from car to plane in mere moments, and all the magic takes place from within the cockpit. When it’s time to land and head home, the wings fold up and you drive off.
You can own the Transition for $194,000 in about 18 months, and you can bet that the commute to work will be a lot quicker.