GM and Segway plan electric two-wheeler
April 7, 2009
" GM, the stricken car giant best known for its gas-guzzling Hummers, is to tie-up with Segway, the electric scooter producer, in an attempt to prove its commitment to reinventing itself.
Days after President Obama warned the Detroit-based company that an aggressive restructuring was the only way to safeguard its future, GM announced it is working with Segway to develop a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle intended to be a green and inexpensive alternative to traditional cars.
Green technology is regarded as the great hope for the car industry, which is in the grip of a global crisis that has seen factories mothballed and production plummet.
GM said that the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or PUMA, project, would involve a vast communications network that would enable vehicles to interact with each other to avoid obstacles and crashes.
Segway has unveiled a prototype of the vehicle, a shiny, neat, two-wheeler that would not look out of place in a sci-fi film. It weighs 146 kilogrammes, runs on a lithium-ion battery and uses two-wheel balancing technology along with dual electric motors.The vehicle is designed to reach speeds of up to 35 miles an hour and can run 35 miles on a single charge.
Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development, said: "The next two months is all about the reinvention of General Motors."
Some of the most revolutionary ideas, he said, had been born out of tough economic times.
Sceptics pointed out that neither the cost of the project nor a production timeline was given, although the companies said that the total operating cost, including purchase price, insurance, maintenance and fuel, should total between a quarter and a third that of the average traditional vehicle.
Late last month the White House denied GM and Chrysler further multi-billion dollar bailiouts and threatened to push the ailiing car makers into bankruptcy unless they implemented aggressive restructuring plans.
GM has already received a $13.4 billion bailout and has demanded a further $16.4 billion.
The stricken group, whose chief executive, Rick Wagoner, was ousted on the request of President Obama for failing to adapt quickly enough to the changing market, has secured funding for only a further 60 days, in which time it must develop a clear strategy for its future.
The PUMA is the latest in a crop of new-style, more efficient and neater cars. Tata, the Indian conglomerate, has recently unveiled the Nano, the world's cheapest car, which has been hailed as a marvel of ultra-cheap manufacturing.
Source: GM and Segway plan electric two-wheeler