General Motors Files Patent Application for 'Transforming' Cars

General Motors has filed one of the strangest patent requests we’ve ever seen, one that gives vehicles the ability to change their shape. Up until now, a GM-branded transformer was something that only existed in the movies. But it would seem the automaker hopes to develop a real-world example someday.

While the concept and patent drawings mirror an idea I developed as a six-year old with a box of crayons, it does have some practical applications. GM has made it clear it sees a future rife with autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing. However, operating a theoretical fleet of self-driving vehicles comes with numerous hurdles. One of the biggest is finding a place to store them.

Having computer-controlled cars mill about endlessly is inefficient, but so is storing them in a central hub. Ideally, you would locate them in small clusters near the area they’re meant to serve. That’s easier said than done in urban environments. But if a car could somehow collapse itself to half its normal size, new parking opportunities suddenly become available.

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Ask Jack: Just Once, Can't We Figure Out What We Keep Doing Wrong?

It’s time to refill the hopper on the questions that keep you awake at night. Send them to askjack@calamarco.com. Help me help you. If you’ve sent me a question and you don’t yet have an answer, feel free to send it again or just remind me to look for your email. You would be amazed at the volume of correspondence I get every day, most of it from people who want to learn how to get press cars. Why would you ask me that? Ask a mommyblogger.

With that out of the way, let’s get to a question that, truthfully, should be asked a lot more often than it currently is being asked, both by customers and manufacturers.

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  • EAM3 Learned to drive in my parents' 1981 Maxima. Lovely car that seemed to do everything right. I can still hear the "Please turn off the lights" voice in my head since everyone wanted a demo of the newfangled talking car. A friend of the family had a manual transmission one and that thing was fun!
  • FreedMike That wagon is yummy.
  • Syke Thanks, somehow I missed that.
  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.