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Douglas Smock
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Platinum
Interesting
Douglas Smock   7/18/2011 12:15:43 PM
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I wonder if this is one of those things that seem really cool but isn't really practical.  I love the idea of driving down the 405, hitting a traffic jam, deploying the wings and flying to the next open stretch of the road. But realistically, you'd have to get to an airport, and then get clearance. The wheels in the photo look too small to be a meaningful highway car. Looks like the fuel economy would be about the same as a monster RV. What are the situations where this would make sense?

 


Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Interesting
Beth Stackpole   7/18/2011 12:24:05 PM
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All good points, Doug, and you beat me to the punch in terms of asking our readers for a reality check. Terrafugia is targeting a very specific audience. Those hobbyist pilots who can't afford (or don't want to incur the cost) of having their own plane and paying for hangar costs along with the expenses associated with renting a car when they reach their destination. This definitely isn't intended to be an Jetson's-like vehicle where you spread your wings and fly off the highway if stuck in a traffic jam. And it's not intended to be a primary vehicle, hence the design choice of smaller wheels and your duly-noted observation that this isn't something you'd want to log miles in on any major freeway.

What do readers think of the flying car concept?

Lauren Muskett
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Interesting
Lauren Muskett   7/18/2011 12:24:28 PM
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I have always wished for a flying car so I would not have to sit in traffic again, but I have to agree with Doug. As cool as it sounds to have a flying car is it something that could be practical?

Lauren Muskett
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Interesting
Lauren Muskett   7/18/2011 12:30:51 PM
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Beth, you answered my question before I even posted it! Good to know it is not intended as being a primary vehicle and is intended for hobbyist pilots. Interesting story. 

Jennifer Campbell
User Rank
Gold
Re: Interesting
Jennifer Campbell   7/18/2011 12:33:33 PM
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Being able to take off in the middle of a traffic jam would be ideal, but that thought never even occurred to me when reading this story. (That may be a few more years in the future - think the Jetsons!) For the money, if you can afford it, this would be perfect for taking long weekends on Cape Cod or the Florida Keys (depending on where you live). You miss the headache of the traffic and you have a car when you get there. Beth, do they yet know what the cost of the Transition will be? And, like Doug, I am wondering about the fuel economy, though, if you are planning on investing in something like this, that probably isn't in the forefront of your mind.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Curb weight
Charles Murray   7/18/2011 12:59:15 PM
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I had seen pictures and video of the Terrfugia flying car, but until I read this story I never realized how small it is. Maximum takeoff weight with (presumably) two people on board is 1,430 pounds? A Smart Car, by comparison has a curb weight (no one on board) of 1,600 pounds. With a couple people on board, a Smart Car could easily weight 500 pounds more than the Terrafugia Transition. Another comparison: A sub-compact Chevy Cruze weighs around 3,000 pounds. Sheesh, this Terrafugia is really small.  

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Curb weight
Beth Stackpole   7/18/2011 2:08:59 PM
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It is really small. The cockpit is actually larger than it looks, much like a Smart Car, but it's really enough to accomodate a pilot, a passenger, and minimal--I mean minimal--gear. As far as Jenn's question around cost, Terrafugia says it hasn't squared away final pricing, but an FAQ on its site says it should be in the vicinity of $250,000.

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Platinum
Practical?
Jack Rupert, PE   7/18/2011 3:19:56 PM
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Even given the fact that we can't use it for jumping traffic, I wonder how practical it actually is given the price and the cost.  Jennifer mentioned taking it on vacation, but personnally, even if could afford it (and the fuel), I wouldn't want to be driving around on the streets with a quarter-million dollar plane.  A bump in the parking lot might do something you don't see and wreck your day at 3000 feet.

Now...get me a jet pack.....

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Shades of the Amphibian Car
Rob Spiegel   7/18/2011 3:52:43 PM
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This reminds me of the cute amphibian car from the early 1960s. It could drive into the water and become a boat. Cool looking, cool idea, but it didn't take off (so to speak). It was another design looking for a need to fill. Here's a YouTube of it.

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Shades of the Amphibian Car
Beth Stackpole   7/18/2011 7:52:28 PM
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We have those amphibian cars in Boston--the duck boats. I hear what you are saying Rob, and I definitely think it's a niche market. Perhaps a tiny niche market, but interesting, nevertheless.

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