After a “soft launch” earlier this year, Terrafugia, the Massachusetts-based roadable aircraft company purchased last year by China’s Geely Group, is taking orders for its Transition vehicle for the first time at this year’s NBAA Convention and Exhibition.

“We have a unique vehicle coming to the market now, and it’s actually happening,” says Hakan Apell, business development and marketing director for Terrafugia. Speaking to ShowNews beside the flying car in the exhibit hall, he adds, “It’s a taste of the future. It is time to revolutionize the aerospace industry.”

Parts for the first production Transitions are already in manufacture, says Terrafugia CEO Chris Jaran. Initial deliveries are set to begin in late 2019, but the first few vehicles will be primarily retained for training and leasing. Wider distribution of vehicles for general use will follow in the early 2020s, he adds. 

The Transition features a hybrid electric power system to drive the wheels on the ground, while extra “boost” power will be available in flight from its LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate chemistry) battery. Propeller power is provided by a fuel-injected Rotax 912iS piston engine. Plans call for the Transition to be manufactured in China, with final assembly and completion in the U.S. The Transition will be licensed by the FAA as a light sport aircraft.

“We have opened the order books and we have orders, so it is a great milestone for the company,” says Apell. Letters of intent have been taken for 10 vehicles, each accompanied by a deposit of $50,000. The vehicle is provisionally priced between $400,000 and $500,000, depending on options and further refinement of the product. “We need some more time to define the fixed price, but we have letters of intent people can sign and make a reservation,” adds Apell.

Terrafugia is also revealing new design details of the TF-2, an urban-transport flying vehicle and attachable, drivable four-passenger or cargo pod that can carry up to 1,200 lb. on ranges of up to 185 mi. at 125 kt. It will aim for type certification in 2023; a scale model is already flying, and a full-scale vehicle should begin flight test by the end of next year. Certification will be under the FAA’s simplified Part 23 rules. The craft will use a piston or gas turbine engine to generate electric power via its batteries to the multiple rotors.

Having earlier studied tiltrotor designs, Terrafugia has now defined the TF-2 with a simpler lift-plus-pusher configuration. “We are comfortable with the design and we know the way going forward. But you never know, if something pops up with the tiltrotor concept, then it could be back, but as for now, we are concentrating all our development around lift-push,” says Apell. 

Terrafugia’s owner Geely, China’s largest auto maker, also owns Volvo and Lotus, as well as the London Electric Vehicle Company that has developed a new hybrid model of the famous black taxicab.