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First 'flying cars' to be built in Mass.

September 8, 2010

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WOBURN, Mass.—The company developing the world's first "flying car" announced on Wednesday that low-volume production of the hybrid vehicle will take off in Massachusetts, perhaps by the end of next year.

Terrafugia, Inc. said it considered several other locations around the U.S. and the world for initial production of the Transition Roadable Aircraft before settling on a 19,000-square-foot facility in Woburn. The company, which is headquartered in the city, said plans for long-term, high-volume production have yet to be completed.

The car-plane has wings that unfold for flying and can quickly fold back up for driving on normal roadways. The two-seater must use a runway to take off and land and is designed to fly mostly under 10,000 feet.

The company cleared a major regulatory hurdle in July when the Federal Aviation Administration granted a special weight limit exemption to the Transition.

Terrafugia said it is developing two prototypes at the Woburn facility, one to undergo extensive drive testing, the other to complete flight testing for Light Sport Aircraft certification. Manufacturing could begin as early as late 2011.

The company had said earlier in the year that it was also considering a $4.4 million offer to move production to Dayton, Ohio.

"We're pleased to be able to set up low volume production near our company's roots here in Massachusetts," said Carl Dietrich, chief executive of Terrafugia, in a statement.

Dietrich said the company is confident the flying car can be profitable.

"We can get to positive net income and be self-sustaining in a relatively short time here," he said.

The Transition is expected to initially be priced at between $200,000 and $250,000. The company said it already has accepted refundable $10,000 deposits for vehicles that were expected to be built during the first two or three years of production.

Terrafugia said it expected to add 50 skilled manufacturing jobs in Woburn by 2013.

Latin for "escape from the land," Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by five Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates who also were pilots.

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