Did GM Greenlight the EN-V?
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Either it’s the blogosphere’s version of playing telephone, or General Motors has committed itself to producing the Segway based two passenger networkable EV pod that GM calls EN-V. The EN-V is seen as a solution to driving congestion and safety in densely populated urban areas. It can be driven or can operate autonomously, in network with other EN-Vs, with electronic nannies preventing accidents and protecting pedestrians. GM’s been giving the three EN-Vs that it’s made so far a workout, visiting expos, car shows and engineering conventions, giving out test rides. But does GM actually have any firm plans to build the thing? It depends on who you ask…
According to Gas 2.0:GM’s upright, Segway-like EN-V electric vehicle has been given the green light for production, with high hopes to see the EN-V become a key part of major cities and car-sharing programs by 2020.
Gas 2.0 also says that the production EN-V will cost less than 7,000 Euros.
When I first noticed the story at Prof. Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit, I was surprised none of the major car sites had mentioned it. If this is true, this is big news. Reynolds, who frequently links to TTAC and other automotive sites, got the story from Gas 2.0. Interestingly, Jo Borras, who wrote the piece at that site, linked to Motorpasion Futuro, a Spanish car site. The reason why I say it’s interesting is that Motorpasion Futuro itself links to the UK’s Autocar, so there was no need to go to a Spanish language site.
Thanks to the magic of computers, here’s Google’s translation of the original Spanish:
Now comes confirmation that this curious and original design, thanks to the excellent reception in different presentations, will the commercial production sketches and among the objectives of GM is to maintain the price as low as possible, for what it has set itself the objective of the commercial version of the EN-V does not exceed 7,000 euros, more or less the current cost of a Segway.
Now let’s compare it to the Autocar report:
General Motors is working on a second generation of its EN-V electric pod concepts, and hopes to have them on sale by 2020 for as little as £6200.
The Mk2 EN-V is expected to be larger to boost cabin space. A four-wheeled concept is also said to be in the pipeline.
GM has pushed ahead with the project after being surprised by global reaction to the EN-V. Insiders say China is interested in building a city with the necessary infrastructure to run the vehicles, while planned cities in South Africa and the US are also investigating the vehicles’ viability.
I don’t think that Autocar is saying what Motorpasion Futuro and Borras are saying saying. Borras & the Spanish site say that the car has been green-lighted for production, but Autocar only says that GM is working on second gen EN-Vs, including a 4 wheeled version, and hopes to have them on sale in 9 years. “Hopes” does not mean that a vehicle has gotten the green light from management. Hopes to have them on sale in 9 years is maybe a half step above vaporware. That GM will keep working on it, trying to get governments to spend the money on the infrastructure the EN-V will need doesn’t mean that it’s going into production. Nine years in the auto industry might as well be 90.
It wouldn’t surprise me if GM put the EN-V into production. It has been, as I said, highly exposed. It’s just that with such a high profile concept vehicle, and such a radical direction for GM as a transportation company, I think the company would have made a bigger deal out of this if the EN-V was really going into production.
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I guess it depends on how you read it. Jo's piece may have been a bit too sensational, but the Autocar piece says GM is working on a second generation of concepts (according to their unnamed sources) and hopes to be selling it by 2020. "Hopes" is the word upon which we are focusing. Does that mean they hope to have it on sale at that date and for that price? Or do they hope they will be able to build and sell it at all? I dunno. There's nothing really concrete to go on, and even if it is true, I doubt GM would comment on it. It could also be the same situation as the Cadillac Converj...lots of outlets reported it too had been greenlighted for production, only to be killed on the design floor. I'm not sure how far GM plans ahead, but almost 10 years seems pretty far out to me. Then again, so are these people pod mover thingys.
Can't see it sharing a road with regular traffic. It'd make a great hood ornament on a Freightliner. Can't work on a pedestrian walkway. So were is it going to go? Golf cart paths? Bikelanes?