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GM shows off vehicles intended for a 2030 "urban" setting

When we think of GM vehicles today, images of tire-shredding Camaros and Corvettes, mom-mobile Suburbans, sedate Malibus, or ballin' Escalades. However, in the future, it may not be feasible to drive such vehicles in highly congested urban city centers. As a result, GM has unveiled three new concept vehicles that aim to transport people with minimal waste, and with a small footprint.

The three Electric Networked-Vehicle (EN-V) concepts showcase what may be needed by the year 2030 when an estimated 60 percent of the world's population will be living in urban areas. The vehicles ride on two wheels and leverage technology gleaned from the folks at Segway.

The future of how we move around in urban areas like Shanghai can combine the best of personal mobility and public transit. There is a better solution and it is called EN-V,” said Alan Taub, Global VP of GM Research and Development. "It demonstrates that we have both the knowledge and the ability right now to create a way to move people that not only ensures a ‘better city’ but also offers people a ‘better life.’”

According to GM, the vehicles have electric motors in each wheel and are powered by lithium-ion batteries. The vehicles have enough battery capacity to travel 25 miles on a single charge. When the battery is depleted, the EN-V can be charged from a standard household outlet.

GM also notes that due to GPS and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, the vehicle an also travel to destinations autonomously.

The EN-V concept represents a major breakthrough in the research that GM has been doing to bring vehicle autonomy to life,” added Taub. “The building blocks that enable the autonomous capabilities found on the EN-V concept such as lane departure warning, blind zone detection and adaptive cruise control are being used in some GM vehicles on the road today.”

The EN-V weighs just 1,100 pounds, is just 59 inches long, and is constructed from carbon fiber and lexan.

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By jdietz on 3/24/2010 12:18:08 PM , Rating: 5
Do you store these in your house when you're not using them? Most urban people do not have a spot for a car. You could ride the elevator with this and store it in your home. There's an outlet there to charge it with. Electric cars will not work if you have no garage - there's no place to plug them in.

RE: Question
By Suntan on 3/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: Question
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 12:41:19 PM , Rating: 4
You've never seen a receptical on the outside of a house before?
In the suburbs, sure...where most houses have garages anyway.

Inside the city, however, its not nearly so common.

RE: Question
By Suntan on 3/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: Question
By MrBlastman on 3/24/2010 1:05:47 PM , Rating: 2
Oh come on, you're being asinine here. In the big city, such as Manhattan or downtown Chicago, where people live in highrise flats/apartments/condominiums, they might not have access to a garage at all--or, if they do, they are extremely expensive.

I think the original poster did have a point about this and if GM truly does believe this is the direction they want to move, they will have to work with city planners to make sure that there are ways for people to charge these cars--not just those who own a garage or their own house.

RE: Question
By Suntan on 3/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: Question
By iceolate on 3/24/2010 1:30:22 PM , Rating: 2
I live in San Francisco. Unless you live in more suburban areas of San Francisco, there is very little chance of finding parking right in front of your own place. In my neighborhood you're lucky if you can find parking within a couple blocks of your home.

That being said, there would definitely have to be designated areas with charging stations to park these things.

However, I would think that in 20 years, technology would be at a point where you wouldn't really need to own or drive one. You would be able to page one to your location and it would automatically drive you to your destination. And there would be wireless power transmitted that constantly keeps them going.

RE: Question
By invidious on 3/24/2010 1:49:15 PM , Rating: 3
I think powered rails embedded in the street is far more practical and likely. But I agree that a personel transport vehicle like this would make more sinse on a pay to ride basis than pay to own. And for pay to ride you would not be responsible for parking or charging, only paying.

RE: Question
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 1:50:21 PM , Rating: 3
" In my neighborhood you're lucky if you can find parking within a couple blocks of your home."

That's the real issue in urban settings...not to mention the fact that, even if you can park in front of your house, the idea of stringing an electric line across your yard to the street is not very feasible. Convenience aside, you have the problem of someone unplugging it from the back of your vehicle, and into theirs. And of course, for those living in multistory apartments, this just isn't possible at all.

Eventually, we might see charging stations built underneath urban streets...but this is the sort of paradigm shift that takes considerably more than 20 years to accomplish.

RE: Question
By quiksilvr on 3/24/2010 8:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
Setting up this infrastructure in the future shouldn't be too complicated. You can have it set so that you can place an outlet on parking meters (put a dollar in it for an hour of charge and parking time).

That's the convenient part of parking spots; they are next to buildings that have power lines. As for electric theft, you can limit the extension of the cord to fit only your spot and have electric vehicles to have a plug lock that can only be opened by a key.

Or even more cooler, a supersized wireless charging pad that you can park over to charge your batteries.

RE: Question
By MrBlastman on 3/24/2010 1:37:06 PM , Rating: 3
True, there are some houses in some urban areas, but there are also lots of urban areas that do not have readily available power outlets on the curbs or in bulk-area parking lots.

I'm not jumping to conclusions at all, as your posts were:

You've never seen a receptical on the outside of a house before?

Here you assume there are houses everywhere in urban areas (or at least allude to that) in your post.

So there are no electricians that are willing to work in the city?

Here you allude that there might need to be electricians without fully admitting that you were shortsighted in your previous post.

I'm just trying to be fair to the original poster. Of course, it is absurd to consider putting your car inside your house, but do you really think the original poster was being serious about bringing a car inside their home to charge it?

I think not.

I think they were conveying sarcasm as to the fact of how absurd a notion it is to have to bring a car inside due to the lack of widespread, externally available electrical recepticals that people can use to charge their vehicles.

Lastly, why would people living in such conditions want a vehicle of any kind if they have absolutely no place to park it?

Not everyone wants to take a cab or a train? They might street-side or parking-lot parking, but none (that I have seen) of these allow the driver to plug stuff in to an outlet in every spot.

RE: Question
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 1:57:15 PM , Rating: 2
why would people living in such conditions want a vehicle of any kind if they have absolutely no place to park it?
I see you've never lived in a city. Carrying every single thing you buy home in bags through the subway gets old after about the first week or two.

RE: Question
By Calin on 3/25/2010 3:12:18 AM , Rating: 2
You have places to park it - just that it isn't so close to home as to allow you to charge it. You might stay at the 8th floor or have parking in the inside square of a building complex, or you might park 100-300 yards away in a parking space, or in an underground parking beneath another building, or whatever.
As for carrying things in bags, it's perfectly feasible for day-to-day purchases (weekly purchases are completely another thing, we're buying bread about every day (and not much else), but we bring home some 20+ pounds of things on weekly buying trips, and it's both bulky and heavy.

RE: Question
By arazok on 3/24/2010 1:22:50 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps they could dig out huge caverns under those condo towers to store the cars when people aren’t using them?

RE: Question
By Samus on 3/24/2010 8:32:17 PM , Rating: 3
last thing we need are public-facing urban electrical outlets so the homeless can use their george forman grills and recharge their iphones on my dime.

By Reclaimer77 on 3/24/2010 12:16:33 PM , Rating: 3
Just no.

RE: No.
By SublimeSimplicity on 3/24/2010 12:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
Once owning a car becomes a right, Government Motors will issue you one. Learn to love it.

RE: No.
By Spuke on 3/24/2010 2:03:06 PM , Rating: 1
I think I'm going to move even farther out in BFE. Seriously, 1000 acres in Montana or Wyoming looks REALLY good right now.

RE: No.
By AssBall on 3/25/2010 6:30:04 AM , Rating: 2
Hehehe these would be a joke in Wyoming... Even smart cars are a joke in Wyoming. Get a truck/suv or gtfo. We do get 85 octane here wich is a plus though.

RE: No.
By miccla on 3/24/2010 4:59:00 PM , Rating: 3
I love how in the future nobody ever travel with more than one other person... kids ! Ha they go in the trunk.

RE: No.
By Spuke on 3/24/2010 7:23:33 PM , Rating: 4
I love how in the future nobody ever travel with more than one other person... kids ! Ha they go in the trunk.
Haven't you heard, only the poor are allowed to have kids. If the non-poor have kids, that's contributing to overpopulation.

RE: No.
By geddarkstorm on 3/24/2010 1:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
The top and middle concepts are pretty nifty, just for aesthetic design. But the bottom one? Urrrrrrgggh. What were they thinking?

RE: No.
By Camikazi on 3/24/2010 2:24:16 PM , Rating: 2
Looks kind of like a duck head looking down to me, maybe they were watching the Discovery Channel at the time?

RE: No.
By Alexvrb on 3/24/2010 11:02:51 PM , Rating: 2
You say that now, but wait until you see the Sport model loaded with a 20mm cannon, twin rocket pods, and polarized hull plating that can be extended over the glass when in combat mode.

RE: No.
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 3/25/2010 7:39:45 AM , Rating: 2
Another answer to a question no one asked, like the original Segway. The idea here is not to answer the question of the best urban transportation solution - which is public - let's go back to trolleys as they are doing in DC, but how to keep people buying in to the car purchase.

Beware of Hitchhikers
By nstott on 3/24/2010 1:16:32 PM , Rating: 4
Is it just me, or don't they look like the cars from the Disney Haunted Mansion? Or maybe a 'tilt-a-whirl' ride. That can't be a good sign... ;)

RE: Beware of Hitchhikers
By nstott on 3/24/2010 1:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
Do they also double as a recycle bin?

RE: Beware of Hitchhikers
By Davelo on 3/24/2010 2:42:19 PM , Rating: 3
With the optional hand rails installed, it becomes a hermetically sealed coffin.

RE: Beware of Hitchhikers
By nstott on 3/24/2010 2:56:52 PM , Rating: 5
...with the convenience of immediate burial after a traffic accident.

I'd be up for a ride
By Suntan on 3/24/2010 12:41:25 PM , Rating: 1
The things look like fun.

I'd love it if cities were actually setup to make these practical. However, I don't think that cities will get a major infrastructure overhaul just to make these practical. (after watching it take over a year and many, many Obama-dollars just to add a toll-lane and a couple of extra exit lanes to the interstate stretch I use each day.) It certainly wouldn't "replace" a real car, but neither do motorcycles.

However, these things would still beat public transport. I have zero desire to drive my car, up from the suburbs, only to park it at a bus station "park-and-ride" to then sit on a bus and adhear to bus routes and schedules to get around "in-town". However, I would be open to the idea of parking my gas powered car at a parking garage at the outskirts of downtown and then checking one of these out for motoring around the town during the day.


RE: I'd be up for a ride
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 12:43:34 PM , Rating: 2
Assuming this vehicle has, by 2030, an adequate top speed and range -- why would you want to drive in using your gas-powered car?

RE: I'd be up for a ride
By Suntan on 3/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: I'd be up for a ride
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 1:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
Because this vehicle will not have a desirable top speed and range by 2030. A 25 mile range leaves me about 15 miles from home
The 25 mile range is today . Battery technology is improving at about 8% per year. By 2030 at that rate, we can expect this vehicle to have 4X the range.

If I were expectd to put along in a dinky toy like this *all* the time
By 2030, this "dinky toy" may well have more acceleration and certainly better handling than your current sports car.

RE: I'd be up for a ride
By Spuke on 3/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: I'd be up for a ride
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 2:07:13 PM , Rating: 2
Did you miss the word "current" in my statement?

RE: I'd be up for a ride
By Camikazi on 3/24/2010 2:25:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, yes they did :)

RE: I'd be up for a ride
By frobizzle on 3/25/2010 9:08:40 AM , Rating: 2
Hey! I think I've been on them at Disneyquest! (They were called Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters!)

By BBeltrami on 3/24/2010 12:54:16 PM , Rating: 4
I grew up hoping for a future like Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. But those things are more a kin to Woody Allen's Sleeper.

It looks like the love child of a Segway and a VW Bug.

RE: Design
By xprojected on 3/24/2010 1:34:34 PM , Rating: 3
A Segway and a VW Bug are probably what they had in mind.

the way I see them ...
By rvd2008 on 3/24/2010 1:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
"Urban Disability " Vehicles

RE: the way I see them ...
By Spacecomber on 3/24/2010 2:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking something along those lines when I saw this article. You often see folks with somesort of disability zipping from their apartments to the stores and back in their hoveround chairs. These electric wheelchairs are obviously primary transportation for a good number of people. So, I guess a two seater is the next step.

RE: the way I see them ...
By AssBall on 3/25/2010 6:48:16 AM , Rating: 2
I guess they could use them at a Wal-Mart...

Why electric?
By banthracis on 3/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: Why electric?
By MrBlastman on 3/24/2010 12:28:19 PM , Rating: 3
Simple. By forcing us to use vehicles that can only go 25 miles, the government can contain us more easily and force us to submit to their will.

RE: Why electric?
By Spivonious on 3/24/2010 12:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
It's all part of their plan to reduce healthcare costs.

From the article
By adiposity on 3/24/2010 1:19:32 PM , Rating: 4
When we think of GM vehicles today, images of tire-shredding Camaros and Corvettes, mom-mobile Suburbans, sedate Malibus, or ballin' Escalades.

Is there a sentence here?

No offense, Brandon :)

didnt we already have this?
By cokbun on 3/24/2010 10:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
compact, carries 2 passenger.... i dont know.. a MOTORCYCLE perhaps?

RE: didnt we already have this?
By Omega215D on 3/25/2010 12:52:11 AM , Rating: 2
I ride my motorcycle into Manhattan from the outer borough in which I live and would not consider carrying a passenger on it. With my luggage on board I can carry groceries unless if there was heavy snow or ice on the ground (these chinese delivery scooters seem to manage this though).

Not everyone is keen on wearing a padded jacket and pants as part of proper and relatively safe riding so this is a bit more risky. Most of the time it's inattentive drivers who are the cause of most accidents but they won't be disciplined anytime soon.

This will not take off for 1 reason
By ThePooBurner on 3/25/2010 2:31:23 PM , Rating: 2
No Back seat. In ordinate power draw to maintain stability when utilizing the front seats. ;)

By ThePooBurner on 3/25/2010 2:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
*inordinate. :P

By Chudilo on 3/24/2010 3:45:35 PM , Rating: 3
Where did they get the money to spend on this sort of long term research, if they supposedly do not have the money to produce a decent car today? If they have money to conduct such research they surely should not be borrowing money for their day to day operations.
Why are we bailing these people out if they are so disconnected from reality?

Interesting vehicle...
By vgdarkstar on 3/24/2010 4:39:16 PM , Rating: 2
SCV good to go sir!

Bubble Boy!
By odessit740 on 3/24/2010 8:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yay bubble boy!

2030 for that? WE have it today
By Hafgrim on 3/24/2010 8:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
We have this today GM! lol Its just a Segway with a windshield lol 2030? We have this now 2010 wake up. Wait let me patent Segway with windshield lol. =P

Time to leave
By josh65 on 3/25/2010 2:50:41 AM , Rating: 2
If i EVER have to drive one or RIDE in one of those &^%&$* things, its definitely time to move out of the city.


1100 pounds
By mikevictor on 3/25/2010 12:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
where did they put all that weight?

Doesn't this thing use power just standing up? Maybe it needs a caster hanging off the rear like R2D2.

By Kyanzes on 3/26/2010 10:45:39 AM , Rating: 2
Would you you get free pills that you'd surely need to take to be able to cope with the fact that you look ridiculous while using these things?

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