eneral Motors may be close to bankruptcy, said Jim Motavalli in The New York Times, but it’s “still in the business of creating dreams.” It’s latest—being unveiled Tuesday at the New York auto show—is a collaboration with Segway: a two-wheel, two-seat rickshaw-like electric pod that drives up to 35 miles per hour for up to 35 hours on a single charge of its lithium ion battery.
This could be big for Segway, said Sharon Terlep in The Wall Street Journal. Its upright Personal Transporter was unveiled in 2001 with “considerable hype,” but few people bought it. GM’s big bet is that the “more car-like” Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (PUMA) will do better, bolstering the bailed-out GM’s “increasingly uncertain future.”
GM could sure use some “cries of staged feel-good concept technology,” said Glenn Derene in Popular Mechanics. And PUMA, which has been in development for 18 months, could be a “real alternative to walking.” It would be a shame if one of GM’s “best ideas” turned out to be “nothing more than a last gasp.”
“The possibilities are tantalizing,” said Frank Markus in Motor Trend, but the PUMA has some basic issues to work out—storage, safety, potholes—not to mention its more ambitious goals of wireless automated driving. Still, who knows? The 60 percent of us living in dense urban areas by 2030 won’t be driving today’s cars—if GM is around, we might be driving PUMAs.
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