When we wrote yesterday that GM’s „car of the future,“ to be shown at the upcoming Shanghai Expo, “looks more like an overgrown Segway scooter,” we meant it in jest. Turns out they are serious. It IS an overgrown Segway scooter.
Writes USA Today: “General Motors, which introduced a modified Segway at the New York Auto Show a year ago, is now trying out a similar kind of personal mobility scooter with its Chinese partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group. Looks a lot like last year’s buggy with a canopy thrown on.” Or something right out of the Jetsons.
Don’t get alarmed. They won’t make you turn in your GMC Denali dually, or your Ford Expedition just yet. The vehicle will “not hit showrooms for another 10 to 20 years,” says Reuters. By which time it will have accumulated a breathtaking range of 25 miles on a single charge.
Remember the Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility prototype, a.k.a. PUMA that had been shown at the New York Auto Show in April 2009 and that made major headlines way back? Well, the “car” that looks more like a wheelchair even a Stephen Hawking would avoid, is back. They changed the military-sounding PUMA to EN-V, which, I take it, is meant to generate envy.
Otherwise, not much has changed. GM and its Chinese partner SAIC threw a plastic body on it. Let me rephrase that. “The body and canopy of EN-V are constructed from carbon fiber, custom-tinted Lexan and acrylic,” says USA Today.
In the “not much has changed” dept., at least the press release caught up with the modern times. Its main theme is social networking, something which is a bit, shall we say, challenged in China. Facebook, Twitter & Co. are on the blocked list. But there are plenty of home grown offerings to fill in.
Says GM’s EN-Vious puff-piece:
“By combining the Global Positioning System (GPS) with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, the EN-V concept can be driven both manually and autonomously. Its autonomous operating capability offers the promise of reducing traffic congestion by allowing EN-V to automatically select the fastest route based on real-time traffic information. The concept also leverages wireless communications to enable a “social network” that can be used by drivers and occupants to communicate with friends or business associates while on the go.”
So while you are standing in line to get through the infamous Shanghai tunnels at rush-hour, you can tweet send a QQ message to your friends: “Traffic bu hao. Start meeting without me.”
When the PUMA, nee EN-V was shown first last year, boingboing said that “both companies hope to have the Puma on the road by 2012.” Well, it looks like the PUMA is still alive. Plans for its roll-out have only been pushed back by a decade or two.
But seriously: Can’t a company owned by the world’s leading nation come up with a more inspired car of the future than last year’s wheelchair that is based on the epic fail called Segway?