Although the automotive world's eyes are on next week's Geneva auto show, the news is starting to trickle in for April's New York event.
Debuts are planned for the redesigned Buick Enclave, Hyundai Santa
Fe, Nissan Altima and SRT Viper, which previously was known as a Dodge.
But all these vehicles seem so 20th Century.
Frankly, I think the Big Apple's attention grabber may just be a car
that's also an airplane, and the company says it's been approved by the
FAA and NHTSA. Essentially, it's a street-legal airplane.
The two-seat, single-engine car/plane, called the Transition Roadable
Aircraft, was developed by Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), a Woburn,
Maryland, aerospace company. It will be the Transiton's first time on
display at a car show. Videos of the Transition on the road and in
flight are featured here. The company portrays the Transition as an
easy-to-use mode of transportation on the highway and in the air.
After landing, the pilot pushes a button, the wings fold up, and the
plane turns into a car that can be driven home and parked in the family
garage. That's assuming the owner has 80 inches of clearance. Nothing
has to be detached from the car/aircraft structure to roll into the
garage or added before take off. It's a complete package, the company
The company says NHTSA granted the Transition an exemption last summer so it could be driven on the highway.
As a plane it falls under the FAA's light sport aircraft category,
which allows would-be-pilots to become certified pilots in about 20
hours, the company said in a news release.
The Transition is powered by a 100-hp piston engine that runs on
unleaded regular. It is expected to have a highway range of about 800
miles or a cruising range in the air of nearly 500 miles. It can cruise
at 105 mph in the air.
A carbon fiber safety cage protects the pilot/driver and passenger.
If the pilot faces uncertain weather, he or she can land at a small
airport and drive to the destination.
The piston engine is connected to a continuously variable
transmission that engages either the rear-wheel drive system or the
propeller. The car/plane weighs 970 pounds and can carry 460 pounds of
pilot, passenger and cargo combined, giving it a gross take off weight
of 1,430 pounds, the company says.
Better start that diet if you want one.
How expensive is the Transition? It's about the cost of four Cadillac
Escalades. The estimated selling price is $279,000 and orders are being
Dual-transportation cars have been around since amphibious vehicles
emerged during World War II. There was the novelty Amphicar in the 1960s
and, more recently, Gibbs Technologies has been developing an
amphibious sports car/speedboat vehicle called the Aquada.
In any case, the Transition will yield yet another definition for "off-road vehicle."