Puma: GM and Segway take a swing at a small car

puma_gm.jpg

Take two companies whose products are sort of a joke, slap them together, and here’s the result: The P.U.M.A., a sort of giant, two-person Segway that is designed for commuters, with a 35-mile range from its lithium-ion batteries. It has a top speed of 35 MPH, which is plenty for city cruising.

What it isn’t is good-looking, but bear in mind it’s a prototype, which explains the caution stripes and (presumably) the lack of any real weather proofing.

Both companies hope to have the Puma on the road by 2012. It’s cute and I’d love to play around with one, but I sort of don’t even care anymore. All these interesting runabouts get teased, then never actually appear—or if they do, they’re overpriced and impractical.

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100 Responses to Puma: GM and Segway take a swing at a small car

  1. Anonymous says:

    . . . overpriced and impractical.

    I’m a huge admirer of Kamen (7-year volunteer for the FIRST Robotics competition, which is Kamen’s baby) but the Segway itself seemed to have been designed entirely to impress engineers; the question “Uh, Dean, how is this better than walking?” apparently never came up.

    This gadget does address the Segway’s most glaring minuses–there’s a place to sit down, a place for a friend (or a kid), a place to put your stuff, and it looks like someone who had trouble walking in the first place could use it (unlike the Segway).

    I got faith. The first calculator I ever saw (early 70s) cost a thousand bucks, only added, subtracted, multiplied and divided and was considered an engineering marvel (1). Now they give those away free with a new bank account.

    This is going to turn into something cheap and terrific in another decade or so.

    (1) It blows me away that the calculations that put a man on the moon were primarily done on slide rules.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Люди! Это классно! Прикольная машинка :) Жаль что в продажу пойдёт только 2012 году.

  3. SamSam says:

    Lots of people here baffle me.

    zeepoli:

    why does this exist?

    it only goes 35mph and there’s no trunk…

    why wouldn’t i ride a bike or walk… ?

    Erm, you can’t say “it only goes 35 mph — why wouldn’t I just walk or bike?” Do you walk or bike at 35mph? Does your bike easily hold another 200 lbs in the passenger seat?

    or take the bus or a cab… ?

    you can say that about a car as well. Do you post “why would I want this car when I could take a cab” on all car reviews?

    padster123:

    The problem with this thing is not the thing itself – it’s OTHER vehicles.

    Anonymous:

    There is no way on God’s green earth this thing could pass crash-safety standards.

    The same can be said for bicycles, yet they are allowed on city roads in most cities. This is clearly no designed for the highway. In terms of crash safty, this is at least as safe as a bike or a motorscooter.

    TheAwesomeRobot:

    Can someone tell me the point of having 2 wheels (over 3) aside from wasting energy balancing to show off a technology without a real market? Don’t say turning radius, because a 3 wheeled vehicle can accomplish nearly the same as this could.

    As someone above noted, it keeps the footprint much smaller. A four-wheeled version of this, without the self-balancing, could not keep upright and would not be stable. To make it stable, it would need a larger footprint, which would diminish its usefulness.

    No city has the infrastructure for this

    Bikes can ride on city roads, as can motorscooters. I see no reason why this should be different.

    Jack:

    Okay, now after a day of bafflement, how is this thing “green”?

    Because it is an all-electric, light vehicle.

    A) Being electric means that it burns energy that was produced either renewably or by a coal powerplant that is many times more efficient than a small internal combustion engine (or, normally, a combination of the two),

    B) being a small, light vehicle means that it uses many, many fewer joules per mile,

    C) keeping energy production in powerplants means that fewer pollutants are emitted in high-density urban areas, where they cause greater health problems.

    —-

    Really, I think people are stuck on one of two mindsets. Either “it’s basically walking/biking, so why don’t the fatsos just walk/bike,” or “it’s a car, but it’s going to get crushed the moment it gets on the highway.”

    Both these views misinterpret the niche that this exists in, which is densely-populated urban cities. In a city, people walk and bike a lot, but they unfortunately also drive an awful lot more, generally because things are further than a couple miles away and/or they need to get there faster than 5 miles an hour and/or they want space to put several grocery bags.

    It’s not going on the highway, and I don’t see why people assume that it’s more at risk of being crushed by a hummer than a bike or motorscooter is.

  4. Trent Hawkins says:

    That makes you look like Captain Pike.

    I don’t know if that’s bad or good…

  5. yri says:

    Yeah, it is a bit Captain-Pike-ish. Can I get one that makes me look more like Davros?

  6. notnigella says:

    interesting take on green transportation. i’d love to use something like this to get around town, but i feel unsafe on a bicycle or scooter already. i think a vehicle like this would take more trust in other drivers than i have.

    (oh btw, hobomike – you are a misogynist jerk.)

  7. joejoejoe says:

    Price of a Kia! Utility of a Schwinn! Wonder Twin Powers — ACTIVATE!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don’t get it. GM already has a multi-year partnership with a fellow American company through which they produce a two-wheeled, zero-emission, urban transport module. The company is called Kent International, INC and they make BICYCLES! These are just as unsafe in a vehicular collision as the PUMA, provide the same protection from the elements as the prototype; but have an UNLIMITED range based on the occupant not on electricity, use no fossil fuels after production, cost 1/40th that of a ‘traditional average’ vehicle — and just like this hyper-tech pram for grown-ups, could use a separate, but integrated infrastructure for users to be most safe and to transit most efficiently. Further, its a centuries-old, already proven technology and you can also get the lower-cost, equally effective Asian model at most retailers. Perfect for the American market.
    So GM, the $$ from the 18 months of R&D for the new electric golf cart should have gone to bike advocacy programs and bike lane programs. You’re welcome for that fat chunk of taxes though. It seems, now, like it couldn’t possible go to waste. Not.

  9. Ceronomus says:

    The AP Wire has a nice write-up on this project (http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090407/D97DLJ180.html)

    “The companies did not release a projected cost for the vehicle, but said ideally its total operating cost – including purchase price, insurance, maintenance and fuel – would total between one-fourth and one-third of that of the average traditional vehicle.”

    Of course, what GM thinks is an average traditional vehicle is subject to debate.

    The article also mentions that there is no time-line for production and that they are looking for a place, such as a college campus, where the vehicles could be put to use and grab a foothold in the market.

    GM might actually have a lot riding on this. But hell, think of all the parking that this would open up in major cities.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “the problem with scooters is the weather”

    ah, and i just bet that thing is totally safe when the road is covered with water … or ice

  11. Ceronomus says:

    BTW, despite financial troubles, GM is the second largest auto manufacturer in the world. I’d hardly call them a joke.

  12. Anonymous says:

    All fun and games until some clueless dink in a Hummer runs you over and doesn’t even notice you stuck in the grill until he’s pulling into the garage at home.

  13. monstrinho_do_biscoito says:

    i know another low cost, 2 wheel form of transport.

    a moped.

    at least it’s wheels are in the correct places to avoid you falling on your face if you stop too quickly.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3gGav63_sE

  14. Ceronomus says:

    Actually, if you watch the video, you can see that there is a small wheel in the back and two small wheels in the front. They appear to be to catch the vehicle if it were to fall forward or back.

  15. ill lich says:

    Is this one of them , uhhh. . . “human-less rickshaws” I’ve heard about?

  16. monstrinho_do_biscoito says:

    @8. yeah i saw those, they don’t look big enough or far enough apart from the main body to prevent the high centre of gravity sending this thing arse over tit if you hit a pot hole.

  17. Anonymous says:

    GM may not be a joke, but GM’s prototypes and predictions for 2012 are a joke. No one at GM actually believes the company will be around in 2012. Which means they can promise anything at all for 2012. I’m surprised they haven’t told us about their solar powered flying car, slated for production in 2012.

  18. Camp Freddie says:

    This needs an extra wheel or two, but then you just get a golf cart or maybe a G-Whizz, which is not the greatest form of transport.

    Why have 2 wheels? You must add way more inefficiency by carrying around balance mechanisms and constantly spending energy to fight gravity.

    Note that this doesn’t apply to bikes, which are self-righting.

    This is to a car what a unicycle is to a bike. No matter what fancy electrics are involved, it’s going to be way less energy efficient than a 3-4 wheel vehicle.

    GM need to go bankrupt. They are the British Leyland of America.

  19. Ceronomus says:

    Considering that the whole thing ways about 300 pounds, I think that you might be over-estimating things.

  20. Anonymous says:

    IF AND WHEN THIS THING TAKES OFF, IT WILL TAKE OFF LIKE A ROCKET. BETTER BELIEVE IT!

  21. Thebes says:

    Looks like a death-trap to me.

    Call me a Luddite but I would not trust this things brain(s) to keep a vehicle balanced if that vehicle held more than 1 person moving faster than a good run.

    I am all for practical ev’s. But they ought not fall over when they run out of battery.

  22. hobomike says:

    Ooooh, one more thing to keep us fat.

    Question is: how easy will it be to navigate while I text my BFF and do my make-up, while sipping my soy macchiato?

  23. BlackTiger says:

    “I…. Think it looks more like a PUMA”

    “… What in Sam-Hell is a Puma?”

    “Uh, you mean like the shoe company?”

    “No… Like a Puma. it’s a big cat. Like a Lion.”

    “… You’re makin’ that up.”

  24. Ceronomus says:

    I don’t think that this is going to keep people any fatter than they are already. The idea is to use these to replace autos in an urban environment. What isn’t to like?

    Zero emissions
    Doesn’t use gas
    Quiet
    Small

    Sure, you aren’t going to take a road trip in this but for people who refuse to use public transportation in the city, this isn’t a bad idea.

    Of course, the logistics of rolling out these vehicles, setting up the grid to make them self-driving, and to keep them charged? I’m curious as to if they can make it practical.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I wonder about the front wheels and steep grades (not sure those little stablizer wheels would like 35mph).
    Also, great as a commuter – but it also needs to help me haul some groceries – which does look possible if the shopping is done in pairs.
    The Segway / Puma site has a rendering of the vehicle with a skin for operating in less than optimal climates — which makes it look like a rickshaw without the tow bars.
    Speaking of inclement weather – what is the ice / snow traction possibilities?
    Also, Segways are weigh rated for only up to 200 – 250 lbs — will this thing be able to carry more than 500 lbs?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, something credible was launched today

    http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s.php

    Hot on the heels of the first 24-hour all-electric endurance race in San Jose

    http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/electricross/

  27. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see why they bothered with the 2-wheel Segway tech. At that size, why not use existing technology and just make a cheap electric SmartCar clone? Why not just ride an actual segway in a bike lane or take a street legal scooter on the road? I’m all for alternate transport methods and developing new technology, but I can’t see this as anything more than a novelty.

  28. GregLondon says:

    hwuh?

  29. Anonymous says:

    I want one with the Dalek trim package!

  30. Brainspore says:

    That photo looks like a dude who just got ditched by his rickshaw driver.

  31. HMGovt says:

    Meanwhile, a credible electric vehicle you might want to ride was launched today

    http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s.php

    It’s the latest version of the Zero X electric dirt bikes that raced in the world’s first 24-hour all-elecrtic motorcycle race in San Jose that ended this time yesterday.

    http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/electricross/

  32. Takuan says:

    get a dozen on the field with the passengers holding polo mallets.

  33. hhype says:

    I am surprised that more people aren’t comparing this to an electric golf cart (#73). I would say that the market space that this vehicle is attempting to fill – tiny city transport, with a friend or packages, low environmental impact (electric), tiny – can adequately be filled by several existing alternatives like smart cars, electric golf carts or bicycles. Yet this market space is not filled by them. What’s missing from these offerings? I can’t imagine success in the same arena with an even more expensive option. ABC news said the expected price would be $6000. Perhaps it is less about the vehicle than about the delivery of the service of moving people around.

    In my opinion, I just think most people are not in fact looking for a cheap, small, environmentally low impact way of getting around a city, present company excepted.

  34. hhype says:

    I am surprised that more people aren’t comparing this to an electric golf cart (#73). I would say that the market space that this vehicle is attempting to fill – tiny city transport, with a friend or packages, low environmental impact (electric), tiny – can adequately be filled by several existing alternatives like smart cars, electric golf carts or bicycles. Yet this market space is not filled by them. What’s missing from these offerings? I can’t imagine success in the same arena with an even more expensive option. ABC news said the expected price would be $6000. Perhaps it is less about the vehicle than about the delivery of the service of moving people around.

    In my opinion, I just think most people are not in fact looking for a cheap, small, environmentally low impact way of getting around a city, present company excepted.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Anyone see the poor kid missing his arms near the end of the video? Poor guy.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Thats Funny
    Surely that will save GM !

    Segway cant sell their product now!

  37. hhype says:

    I am surprised that more people aren’t comparing this to an electric golf cart (#73). I would say that the market space that this vehicle is attempting to fill – tiny city transport, with a friend or packages, low environmental impact (electric), tiny – can adequately be filled by several existing alternatives like smart cars, electric golf carts or bicycles. Yet this market space is not filled by them. What’s missing from these offerings? I can’t imagine success in the same arena with an even more expensive option. ABC news said the expected price would be $6000. Perhaps it is less about the vehicle than about the delivery of the service of moving people around.

    In my opinion, I just think most people are not in fact looking for a cheap, small, environmentally low impact way of getting around a city, present company excepted.

  38. tkahvesi says:

    I hope they give it a REALLY LOUD horn.

    HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, it must be all these damned compact electric vehicles that are keeping me fat. I knew there was something to blame!

  40. Anonymous says:

    Silly idea. Bye Bye Gee eM!

    http://www.saddlebackgolfcars.com/gems.html
    just get one of these, more practical…and cheaper.

    R

  41. hhype says:

    I am surprised that more people aren’t comparing this to an electric golf cart (#73). I would say that the market space that this vehicle is attempting to fill – tiny city transport, with a friend or packages, low environmental impact (electric), tiny – can adequately be filled by several existing alternatives like smart cars, electric golf carts or bicycles. Yet this market space is not filled by them. What’s missing from these offerings? I can’t imagine success in the same arena with an even more expensive option. ABC news said the expected price would be $6000. Perhaps it is less about the vehicle than about the delivery of the service of moving people around.

    In my opinion, I just think most people are not in fact looking for a cheap, small, environmentally low impact way of getting around a city, present company excepted.

  42. jerkzilla says:

    What the hell is wrong with engineers? I was promised a future that would give us anti-gravity enabled flying cars, Mr. Fusion, and the hoverboard, and instead I got the “flying car” (an airplane that has wings which fold up is still an airplane, no matter what you call it), a jet pack that flies for 90 seconds and a 2 seater segway. This is the future? This two seater douche-mobile? This future makes me feel as gypped as Charie Brown on Halloween with a sackful of rocks. When I see the stupidity and wasted time and money of things like this P.U.M.A, I feel like taking every engineer in the world and locking them in a warehouse and not letting them out until they’ve at least figured out a real-world teleportation device that actually works.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Oh I was going to say PIKE! But I saw it right off, this is not a car its the perfect outdoor wheelchair! Remember thats how Segway got its start with chairs that could climb stairs. Now they have a practical outdoor anti tip wheelchair that can go faster than the average (drool running off a chin speed…booooooooooring) I want one!

  44. Ceronomus says:

    The Zero looks pretty sweet. I’m not wanting a motorcycle myself, and I don’t know how much I want a rickshaw without a driver….but at least companies are taking steps finally.

  45. Anonymous says:

    The very first comment was dead on. It’s a wheelchair!

  46. Anonymous says:

    The segway has just got less stupid and moar awesome.

  47. Teapunk says:

    @Ceronomus:
    fine, just a concept. I live in middle/northern Europe, if a concept doesn’t include weatherproofing against rain, sleet, hail, snow, whathaveyou, I lose interest in the concept rather quickly. There isn’t even space for doors, if you attach doors to this concept the Puma would fit really snug, like some fish tank or a box.

  48. hpavc says:

    Why on earth is GM involved in this and then have the date 2012. Damn it make the device and sell the mk1 version in the class of a scooter or motocross bike.

    Also all those low shots of the machine and the curb in the background, I so wanted to see it tackle going up a curb or a sleeping policeman bump.

    I also want to see a very large person on one side of the vehicle.

  49. Moriarty says:

    “No one at GM actually believes the company will be around in 2012.”

    That’s what they get for hiring a bunch of Mayans.

  50. editjunk says:

    That’s not cool though.

    This is cool:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahr9sUnqfeM

  51. Anonymous says:

    “And here I am, using my legs like a sucker!” – Homer

  52. Anonymous says:

    You’d get killed in that thing!

  53. Anonymous says:

    “Ooooh, one more thing to keep us fat.”

    I hope you post that comment on every post about cars.

    I don’t think the main problem is that thing tipping. I think the problem would be twisting when one wheel hits an obstruction that the other doesn’t.

    It’s a problem with Segways.

  54. Ceronomus says:

    I think the most interesting part of the project is making the vehicles self-driving. I just don’t think that feature is ever going to get off the ground though. It certainly is a great concept, but too much Disney EPCOT for people to accept I think.

  55. zeepoli says:

    why does this exist?
    why would i want this as oppose to any other forms of transportation.

    it only goes 35mph and there’s no trunk…

    why wouldn’t i ride a bike or walk or take the bus or a cab… ?

    why is this better than a smart car?

    i see no reason to buy this.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Here is a good reason GM is taking our hard earned money now. What kind of thought process would allow a company that is in financial trouble now to align themselves with a company that cannot sell their product now. The Segways are ten times too expensive and cater only to people who have several grand to piss away on a toy. That does not include the majority of the people in the USA. I’ll bet this junk pile will be in the neighborhood of 10 grand if compared to their other items. This technology for building these two wheeled cars is obtainable off the shelf and a very nice unit can be built for less than one grand. I think it would be a real good deal if the people who would use these kind of vehicles could afford to buy one but that is not the case. They suffer from the same problems all electric vehicles suffer from, a good battery system. I would like to see someone use regenerative braking, downhill and coasting charging and a solar panel built in to the vehicles roof. If every manner of recovery was used one could squeeze a few more miles out of the unit and maybe recharge itself by setting in the sun while you work. Anyway, this unit will be way to expensive for the middle class people who could benefit from a low cost low maintenance vehicle.

    Looking at some of the plans on the Internet there are some very bright individuals who have put together several of these units that surpass the Segway in performance, and all of the parts can be purchased online. Many bright people will be able to modify these and use off the shelf materials to make their units even better. I will give Segway some kudos, theirs looks pretty nice. You would think a company like GM would work on mass production and get the units out for less than a grand. It could be done. With the composites used today the units could be very likely be molded in one shot. While I think stuff like that is cute for people who have money to burn , but it was not something that was ever targeted at the masses. I wish someone would take a shot at building something for the middle class like those units for under a grand. I know it can be done because I can build on for me for less than that price. If someone like me can do it for that price someone who builds in mass and knows what they are doing could get some great deals on quantities. There are so many possibilities and I live in a area where I could use a vehicle like this to get back and forth to town for fun and shopping. Other than going to the big city this would serve me fine 90 percent of the time and I could charge it from the solar, wind or water power off of the property. But there is no way I would ever pay over 2K for something like that, and that is a big stretch.

  57. Teapunk says:

    Nice idea, yet impractical. Whereever this was developed, does it ever rain there? You’d get totally drenched without some doors. There isn’t enough space for a handbag (which could get snatched anyway thanks to the absence of doors), let alone groceries – so if I wanted to buy a small car, I’d rather go for a Smart.
    And if I want something ecological sound and slow, I can simply stay on my bike.

  58. Anonymous says:

    Electric vehicles are not “zero emissions” as a commenter above has said. The emissions are produced at the plant making the electricity. Yes, some electricity is lower in emissions, such as wind, but most of our electricity today comes from burning coal and natural gas.

  59. SamSam says:

    @Jenonymous:

    I respectfully disagree–Vespas can go fast enough to not be a speed bump in traffic, and can navigate said traffic. I see a Vespa and motorcycles as much faster bicycles.

    I’m sorry, but the speed limit in an urban area in both Massachussets and New York is 30 mph — I assume other states are similar. This thing goes 35 mph. 50cc Vespas go 40 miles an hour. Both top speeds are avove the speed limit.

    And, yet again, bicycles are allowed on roads, even roads without bike lanes. Show me a bicyclist that commutes at 35 mph and I’ll show you a Tour de France winner.

    Further, this can “navigate traffic” as well as a vespa, since they have to stay in their lanes like everyone else. And no, Vespas can’t go on sidewalks, as you seem to think this would need to to make it useful.

    The rest of your post is rhetorical and does not contain arguments against this car.

    Again, all the arguments against this can equally by leveled against motorscooters and similar vehicles, and, for some people, this holds several advantages, including more comfortable space for either two people or 200 lbs of bags next to them (try carrying that on a vespa — it sucks and throws your weight way off); it’s reasonably weatherproof, esp if it gets doors; and it’s electric, which for the reasons I posted above make it much greener than gas, even if the energy is coming directly from a coal-burning plant.

  60. Jenonymous says:

    Sorry, but there is no way that this is useful to anyone, anywhere. GM scores a FAIL for asking for bailout money while peddling crap like this.

    Think about it–it can’t go on a sidewalk or walkways, and it has NO storage capacity at all.

    I live in Queens, and can walk to the subway/public transportation. Once in a blue moon I have a friend with a car take me to either Ikea or Costco for Large Items. Now, as said Large Items would not fit in this, and said PUMA couldn’t go on the major roads to get what I need that I can’t take on public transportation easily, I ask, what’s the point?

    Anyone in suburbia will already have a car.

    Anyone in a city will have some form of public transportation or a car.

    PUMAs will suck in bad weather and will be a deathtrap in traffic. At least a bike can maneuver around trouble spots easily and can go places where this thing can’t.

    If GM had a brain they would work on compact electric cars, something like a teenier Beetle, that can go on a major highway and take some cargo and not be a coffin on wheels.

    I see this as yet another toy for the rich to tool around their country clubs or lush green campuses with. Otherwise it’s useless.

    Name ONE unfilled niche that this POS fills.

  61. Anonymous says:

    its just the 2 seat version of what actually a lot of police men use in the streets:S,but will cost 10 more times at least.

  62. Anonymous says:

    The problem with electric motorcycles and scooters is that you’re out in the weather. This may be fine for people who live in always-balmy climes, but here, it rains a fair amount, snows occasionally, and is often quite cold.

    There have been some (surprisingly expensive) motorcycles with mostly-enclosed compartments for riders (e.g., the BMW C-100). This Puma is a variation on those, really.

  63. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what engineers are thinking. First the steam train, and then this.

    Why they bother inventing things that none of my trend setting or maven friends has found cool yet?

    I’m so totally not getting one unless I feel socially excluded without it…

  64. pAULbOWEN says:

    I want one. I want one NOW. I want one with Motorhead’s war pig on that big front panel. Oh yeah.

  65. Jack says:

    You know it’s a red herring because they promoed/demoed it without a scantily clad model posing next to it.

    Will say the one place I see the most Segways is during events in NYC when the cops-on-a-Segway show up.

    I predict some meter-maids in 2010 will be getting some swanky new rides.

  66. SamSam says:

    @Jenonymous: By the same logic, Vespas have no niche in the cities, because anyone who lives in Queens can walk or take the subway, and everyone in suburbia has a car.

    Yet Vespas and medium-sized scooters do have quite a niche in cities.

    This fills pretty much the same niche, except (a) it’s all-electric, which only a few scooters are, currently, (b) it’s slightly larger, allowing you to seat two people more comfortably (they definitely need some kind of small storage space hanging off the back, though…), and (c) it looks like it’ll be rather more weather proof than even covered bikes (like this one).

    It certainly has it’s drawbacks — primary for me would be that piddling 35 mile range, though that’s the kind of thing that improves as batteries improve — but there certainly exists a niche for it in cities.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I could see uses for metermaids, and yes college campuses wouldn’t be bad. I live in a college town and parking, traffic , and just getting around can be a problem.
    Since we can’r seem to get public transportaion to be as effective as we would like, something like this could cut down on people that live in a town they work in from driving the bigger gas burners. The town I work in isn’t very big but there are many different “greener” vehicles all over the place. This thing isn’t much smaller than those Smart cars and they are showing up alot around here

  68. Anonymous says:

    another option would be people with DUI’s
    The size of this vehicle means that it would not require a registration or license to drive, like some mopeds or scooters.
    Of course it opens the door for underage drivers as well if it doesn’t require a license.
    if it can come in under $10,000…preferably closer to $5,000, then you ahave more of a market than you might think.

  69. Ceronomus says:

    Teapunk,
    The fact that the prototype doesn’t have doors doesn’t mean that the completed model won’t. I think this is more a case of proving that the technology works rather than aesthetics and rain-proofing.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t it be innovative if they came out with a car I would drive?

  71. Anonymous says:

    i think the problem here is the “GM” part…
    anyone that has seen the “love the smell of their own farts” episode of south park will understand that the target audience for this vehicle are too full of themselves to ever consider something practical if it is directly linked to a large corp. there must be at least one degree of separation so that they can think they are better than everyone else (i.e. Saturn or Scion)

  72. padster123 says:

    The problem with this thing is not the thing itself – it’s OTHER vehicles.

    If there were fewer oversized cars/SUVs around, fewer ridiculously large trucks and buses in the city, if more people rode bicycles/mopeds, then this thing would make a lot of sense.

    I say ban the stupid big pieces of metal from a wide selection of city roads, and open them up for the good stuff (bikes, mopeds, segways etc).

  73. Osprey101 says:

    It looks like it’s made with composites and aluminum, which is unfortunate. If they used steel, they could simply weld it shut, doubling as a coffin after a collision with anything larger than a cicada.

  74. firetheft says:

    One step closer to making Wall-E a reality

  75. ChunkyMonkeyBrain says:

    It always cracks me up to read how ANGRY people get when green prototypes are presented – as if it’s some sort of diabolical plot to forcibly emasculate the American male.

    it’s an electric scooter with more storage capacity and weather protection that will cost something in the 4 figure range.

  76. novabeatnik says:

    How about a nice bike?

  77. Anonymous says:

    GM, just get it over and file for Chapter 7.

  78. Jack says:

    Okay, now after a day of bafflement, how is this thing “green”? I think giving everyone a horse might be greener.

  79. Anonymous says:

    Zero emissions
    Doesn’t use gas
    Quiet
    Small

    Add “and keeps you fit” to the mix and you have a bicycle.

  80. Jenonymous says:

    Samsam,

    I respectfully disagree–Vespas can go fast enough to not be a speed bump in traffic, and can navigate said traffic. I see a Vespa and motorcycles as much faster bicycles.

    This thing is like a phone booth on wheels. FWIW I think covered bikes are stupid also.

    I mean, seriously, it would be more logical for me to have a pack-llama (there are actually houses with huge, green, overgrown yards under the supports for the train tracks in my ‘hood) and just walk the damn thing to the supermarket to help carry my groceries, or lash Ikea knockoff furniture to. It’s 100% green, can even go up and down steps, and won’t slip on icy surfaces.

    To take it to an absurd level, why DOESN’T my local CSA have “delivery llama” service? I mean, I’m REALLY loaded down on the weeks that we do tomato pickup on top of our regular shares.

    Oh yeah and the llama can go on sidewalks also.

  81. Ceronomus says:

    Well, from what I gather, the whole idea is that these would operate in an area without cars and with automated driving systems to avoid collisions over all. Read the AP article about it. It is all very interesting if they can pull it off. I don’t think that they WILL but it is an interesting concept.

    But folks, everyone is talking about these things in a wreck. Purely electric vehicles are going to tend to be light. They will ALL have the same issues in a collision. Heck, the Zero weighs 225 pounds. Hit that with a car and it’ll just go sailing into the stratosphere….

  82. hallpass says:

    This reminds me of the news meeting at my old paper back in 2000 when the Segway was being teased as “It!” or whatever they dubbed it.

    The wire editor said, “We have a story on a new vehicle described as a one-wheeled scooter capable of 60 mph. They say it’s going to revolutionize transportation.”

    The editor in chief, who was a krusty old newsman straight out of central casting, summed it up in a few words.

    “It’ll revolutionize head injuries.”

    I miss that guy.

  83. Jenonymous says:

    Chunky,

    The outrage is multi-fold and multi-sourced:

    -the outrage that GM is wasting OUR money on crap like this and painting it “green” when they should be focusing on phasing out SUVs and other gas-guzzlers, working with energy companies on more mutli-fuelable cars, and so forth

    -the fact that the number of enviornments where this POS is actually useable is near nil.

    -What storage capacity? I didn’t see any there.

    PS–as a female who owns neither a car nor a bicycle I have no proverbial dick in the game, but thanks for playing.

  84. leverenz says:

    why not use golf carts?

  85. Marshall says:

    Best thing about this is the colour scheme. Why can’t I get a stock GM truck in carbon fiber/gunmetal with yellow caution stripes? That’s what’s sinking GM – not enough industrial-chic paint jobs.

  86. SamSam says:

    Hey, would this be better with added technology which would:

    * make it several thousand dollars cheaper
    * make it more stable and safer
    * eliminate the need for parking this at an angle and pulling it straight when you start it up?

    … that is, would this be better with a third wheel?

    I mean, the segway was cute and all, but it there any reason for the costly, potentially unsafe balancing, besides aesthetics and “coolness?”

  87. Oren Beck says:

    It’s a skinned version of Heinlein’s “tumblebug” with a few more wheels…

  88. malaidoskop says:

    Looks like an electric wheelchair where you can take along a buddy or your conjoined twin… I just imagine this vehicle in India with a whole family including grandma plus goat in it.

  89. J France says:

    I belive GM is the few spelling for FAIL.

    At least they economised on letters.

  90. J France says:

    few = new.

    Epic fail, me, epic fail.

  91. theawesomerobot says:

    Can someone tell me the point of having 2 wheels (over 3) aside from wasting energy balancing to show off a technology without a real market? Don’t say turning radius, because a 3 wheeled vehicle can accomplish nearly the same as this could.

    No city has the infrastructure for this – it’s the same claim they made about the Segway, that we’d change he infrastructure to fit it because it was so revolutionary – and what’s the Segway almost a decade later? An expensive yuppie toy.

    Not to mention that by the time they outfit this to become DOT certified I’d be INCREDIBLY surprised if it were able to hold the 35 mile/35MPH claim. Not to mention that this WILL be overpriced – much like the Segway is today. I can say that with near certainty. I should go modify wikipedia and add this to the term “inefficient” because it fits the bill pretty well.

    This just seems like GM grasping at straws to stay afloat – because it’s just way too early to show off something like this, they might as well have thrown a cardboard box on a Segway – this is just as viable in its current state. Hell, concept cars without engines are more reasonable than this.

    It’s a good thing GM didn’t announce this on April 1st, because even the one person who sees this in a positive light wouldn’t believe it.

  92. Brainspore says:

    @ Samsam #43:

    I think the problem with using a third wheel instead of this “balancing” technology is that anything with that high a center of gravity and that small of a footprint is likely to tip over with a conventional drive system.

    Any physics or engineering geeks out there able to confirm that?

  93. Anonymous says:

    I don’t recall that “too many wheels” was one of the major issues that engineers had to address when coming up with the perfect commuter vehicle. I don’t see the point of its “Segwayness”. Add a third wheel, or even a fourth one. The design doesn’t do anything to address the real issues of range, charging infrastructure, cost, safety, and obesity.

    Whilst I just ride a bike myself, I still kind-of like the idea of an electric version of the Piaggio trike as a commuter for the terminally lazy.

  94. brainpuddl3 says:

    This 18-year-old has them beat for coolness –

    http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2837829.html?menu=news.quirkies

  95. Anonymous says:

    Three words: motorized garbage can.

    There is no way on God’s green earth this thing could pass crash-safety standards. Not even if it had a titanium frame and a the black stuff was top-notch carbon fiber. At least no way unless the safety standards are relaxed or ignored, which I wouldn’t think impossible, sadly enough.

  96. Brainspore says:

    Brainpuddl3, I hate you for showing me that link because I will never be able to own one unless I get a job working for a supervillain.

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