By on March 25, 2010

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?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

22 Comments on “OMG: GM’s Car Of The Future IS An Overgrown Segway...”


  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    So if you get rear-ended in this thing and it topples flat on its face, is there a hatch to crawl out of?

  • avatar
    whatsanobeen

    Must TTAC end every post about GM with a clearly pointed bias against the company?
    Both Honda and Toyota have released concepts of “overgrown Segways” in past years, and yet GM is the only one getting flack here.

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      It would be ok for GM to do this if they were not using public funds. It is a clear waste of time and a distration.

      That said, this may be more popular for the Mall Cop crowd than the upcoming Caprice will be in the interceptor market.

    • 0 avatar

      Must TTAC end every post about GM with a clearly pointed bias against the company?

      Yes. The editorial board of TTAC has just handed down this edict: “End every post about GM with a clearly pointed bias against GM.”

      Seriously: This is the Expo. Every country will showcase its most memorable achievements. And GM comes up with a warmed-over Segway? Ok, why not, as entertainment at the U.S. (or maybe Chinese) pavilion. But making a big to do about it? Come on, we deserve better.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Toyota has had at least 3 different personal mobility concepts it has introduced at different auto shows. What is so different about that than this?

      rmwill, GM was in partnership with Segway before bankruptcy. I am not sure I would call it a waste of time and a distraction just yet. In developing nations, and in heavy populated urban areas, these types of vehicles could have their niche.

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      Dabbling with Segway technologies, which are massively overhyped failures, distracts GM from actually focusing on the core business requirements for improving mainstream cars and trucks and selling them at a profit. With limited resources, focus is critical. Much like GM’s dalliances with overpriced Australian product for niche products like the GTO and G8, these efforts take GM’s eyes off the ball at a critical time.

    • 0 avatar
      Martin Schwoerer

      I have to agree with your point, whatsanobeen. From a technological point of view, the GM concept has merit, just like the Honda and Toyota ones do.

    • 0 avatar
      tauronmaikar

      Q: “Must TTAC end every post about GM with a clearly pointed bias against the company?”
      A: Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      rmwill,
      They only put a cover on the last concept. It doesn’t sound like a huge amount of work was done on it. But, this could become part of the core business in the future. It should have research on it to be prepared.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    I want my money back.

  • avatar
    Syke

    OK, will someone explain to me what this (and the Honda, Toyota, etc. equivalents) can do that a bicycle cannot?

    Besides pander to human laziness and corpulence?

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    That Youtube screencap looks like a residential trash can with a plexiglass top.
    That might make cleaning up accident sites a breeze.

  • avatar
    carve

    This will completely revolutionize the way we play golf. Now instead of pulling a bag or driving a cart, we can actually drive the bag!

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Look at it this way – TTAC readers have been upset for quite a while about increased weight and overblown safety regulations resulting in dozens of airbags, right? Well, here’s just what you asked for!

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    While I do think the Segway has a role, any open air vehicle, be it a bike or future transporter, has the fatal flaw of exposing the driver to humid, sooty air during hot weather.
    Do you think your attractive female companion is going to like baking in taxi exhaust as your little transporter waits at traffic lights?

  • avatar
    tauronmaikar

    Lets just hope that this thing’s lack of safety features and plainly exposing chinese bodies to being squished like sardines in a can will contribute to reducing human population and their impact on the environment.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This R2D2 of a vehicle makes the Smartfortwo look like a Hummer.

    But will it have a GM interior?

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Aveo ownerss have something safer to move up to now.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Dont think much of the crumple zones. Maybe you should run this story again on April 1st.
    (Presume you do have fools-day in the US )

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Holy Cow. I SOOOOooooo want them to make this… The sightings will be a hoot. Seriously.

    Dear GM, Please, please, please, please, puhleeeeeeeeeeeeze build this….what the hell is it?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India