GM and Segway today unveiled the PUMA, a people-mover that resembles a genetically modified wheelchair. The vehicle, which is controlled wirelessly, goes up to 35mph, but looks like it would crumple if a Hummer came within ten feet of it. The Wall Street Journal reports:
General Motors Corp. is teaming with Segway Inc., maker of the upright, self-balancing scooters, to build a new type of two-wheeled vehicle designed to move easily through congested urban streets.
The machine, which GM says it aims to develop by 2012, would run on batteries and use wireless technology to avoid traffic backups and navigate cities. The Project P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) prototype is shown in Brooklyn April 4. GM and Segway say the vehicle could allow people to travel around cities more quickly, safely, quietly and cleanly,
GM is betting PUMA’s more car-like traits — an enclosed compartment and top speed of 35 miles per hour — will lead to better results. GM didn’t say how much the machines would cost, but research chief Larry Burns said owners would spend one-third to one-fourth of the cost of a traditional vehicle.
PUMA would have a range of about 35 miles. GM said it aims to use so-called vehicle-to-vehicle technology to avoid traffic problems and potentially have it navigate itself through city streets.
Is GM trying to poke fun at the government bailout with this green, but useless vehicle? Or are they just being lazy, funding Segway’s geek experiments, and proving to Obama that they are indeed changing their business model?