After Tesla: A flying car?

The electric-car maker's hot IPO shows a lot of interest in the future of transportation. Is this what's next?

By Jamie Dlugosch Jul 1, 2010 2:29PM

Move over, Tesla (TSLA), and watch out for that flying car.

 

The five minutes of fame that came with your electric car and subsequent and successful IPO have come and gone. In its place is the ultralight automobile that also flies.

Recently the Federal Aviation Administration gave Terrafugia and its Transition vehicle the go-ahead to start developing its car with wings.

 

Imagine the simplicity of being able to decide whether to fly or drive based on traffic patterns. Logjam on the freeway? No problem, I’ll just take to the skies.

 

The world of the Jetsons and their fast-moving flying vehicles might very well be right around the corner.

Could an IPO like we saw with Tesla be far behind?

 

Terrafugia has a long way to go before going public. At nearly $200,000, the flying car is far from being available to the masses.

 

What makes Tesla so attractive to investors is the vision of selling electric cars to a very large market. For Terrafugia to do the same would require greater affordability along with some practical improvements.

 

For starters, people wishing to fly the car with wings would still be required to do so from airports or, at a minimum, airstrips equipped for takeoffs and landings.

 

Make a product that allows air travel direct from the interstate, and then you might have something. You might also have some significant safety problems as well.

 

The futuristic vision is still a long way from becoming a practical reality, and with it the hopes of investors waiting to get in on the action.

 

But that is not a deterrent for the enterprising founders and investors in Terrafugia.

 

They are plowing ahead with their dreams with the expectation of a product to be ready for delivery 18 months from now. If they can prove the model is profitable, perhaps an IPO will follow.

 

This particular business plan is not meant for the masses, but if they can make money with their pitch of convenience for commuters the venture investors will make a bundle.

 

Perhaps that is the lesson.

 

Get in on the action before a company goes public. Otherwise you have to take a risk that an IPO like Tesla can deliver on promises at a premium price.

 

Which would you prefer?

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