Note to those who comment “slow newsday?” whenever there is something that can be construed as even mildly uncomplimentary towards GM (sorry if you bought the stock.) You are right. The newsday must be glacial. First, the Freep’s investigative reporters unearthed a slowdown at Toyota. Now, the crosstown competition at the DetN found GM’s super-secret car of the future. Stop press! It will be that epic fail, formerly known as the Segway.
When we saw (and panned) GM’s rebadged Segway with a canopy thrown on at the beginning of the Shanghai Expo in March, we quietly, but sincerely hoped it would be one of those “cars of the future” things that appear at expos, promptly to fade from memory thereafter. One of the things of which nobody honestly believes that they have any future. Then, obstinate GM showed the contraption again at the Beijing Motor Show.
And now, the DetN announces that “General Motors Co. believes it’s got the right car in mind for one population segment that typically shuns driving — the city dweller. It’s electric, wirelessly connected and able to squeeze through traffic with its compact two-seater design.”
It’s also a two-wheeler. It’s the same old Segway. Actually, it is the Segway-based Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility prototype, a.k.a. PUMA that had been shown at the New York Auto Show in April 2009, something we called “a wheelchair even a Stephen Hawking would avoid.”
PUMA begat EN-V, or “envy.”
As if anyone would be envious of it. It’s target market is identified as “buyers in big congested cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.”
Well, first off, people there definitely do not shun driving. But they would shun me. If I’d show up with one of those in Beijing, my requisite second, third, fourth and fifth wives would desert me for a guy who owns an Audi A6L and a BMW X5 for the luggage. My visa would be revoked, and I’d be laughed out of town.
Visitors from Germany recently remarked to me that “in your building’s garage are more S-Class cars than in our whole town in Germany.” This is not the target market for something that causes car envy.
GM vehemently disagrees: “This vehicle is going to be increasingly needed in the markets where we hope to grow our business,” said Chris Borroni-Bird, GM’s director of advance vehicle concepts. Mr. Borroni-Bird Sir: What’s needed there is cars.
GM will continue to show the “car” at car shows the world over, they will even introduce it to the International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas in January. They must be serious.
Saving grace: “A real production model, however, is probably more than a decade away and is likely to first appear overseas, rather than in the United States where most motorists travel by highway,” announces the DetN with razor-sharp perception. In China, they drive on the sidewalk. (Well, sometimes, they do.)
“These vehicles are going to be more like handheld PDAs, as opposed to today’s desktops,” said Borroni-Bird. PDAs are highly mobile, connected to a wireless network – and LaHood thinks they are a menace to society.