April 7, 2009
GM and Segway's electric, two-seat prototype vehicle is intended for urban use.(click for image gallery) Bankruptcy for General Motors may be inevitable, but the R&D side of the company is forging ahead with plans for a new electric vehicle. GM and Segway rolled out an electric two-wheel, two-seat prototype vehicle in New York on Tuesday. Built for use in congested urban environments, Project P.U.M.A. (for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), as the vehicle is called, combines several technologies demonstrated by GM and Segway. The 300-pound, zero-emissions vehicle is powered by a lithium-ion battery and dual electric wheel motors. It features all-electronic acceleration, steering, and braking; vehicle-to-vehicle communications; digital smart energy management; two-wheel balancing; and a dockable user interface that allows off-board connectivity. "Imagine small, nimble electric vehicles that know where other moving objects are and avoid running into them. Now, connect these vehicles in an Internet-like web and you can greatly enhance the ability of people to move through cities, find places to park, and connect to their social and business networks," Larry Burns, GM's VP of R&D and strategic planning, said in a statement. The vehicle is built to carry two (seated) passengers at speeds of up to 35 MPH with a range of up to 35 miles between charges. Energy consumption is estimated to be roughly equivalent to 200 MPG. Pricing wasn't announced, but Burns said in a statement that it would cost "one-fourth to one-third the cost of what you pay to own and operate today's automobile." GM said it hopes to have the vehicle in production by 2012. The Segway Personal Transporter debuted with great fanfare in 2001, and has found a niche market, but failed to "be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy," as its inventor, Dean Kamen, predicted.
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