Will urban drivers be willing to take less traffic congestion over a backseat? GM thinks so. The American auto-maker, who in February reported its first full-year profit since 2004, has been in development of three two-wheeled, Segway-based, all-electric EN-Vs (Electric Networked Vehicles). The three models called the Jiao, Miao and Xiao, look to solve the problems drivers face in urban areas including traffic congestion, parking availability, air quality and affordability.
GM is strategizing with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group to launch EN-Vs by 2030 when "urban areas will be home to more than 60 percent of the world's 8 billion people," which GM stated in a press release "will put tremendous pressure on a public infrastructure that is already struggling to meet the growing demand for transportation and basic services." GM's answer looks to be a mobility machine effective for carrying one to two people at up to 25 mph around cities. The Telegraph's Mike Rutherford recently had the opportunity to drive the Jiao, and believes transportation in the future with EN-Vs may look something like this:
"At 7.45am a parent might unhook it, fully recharged, from the side of the house, having been automatically parked there. Then a child will be strapped inside, which they must enter through its visor-like polycarbonate front door.
Via the “iWheel” mum or dad will use a password to put the vehicle into autopilot mode, before punching in the first drop-off address (a school perhaps) of the day. While the kids are dozing or doing homework en route, a parent can watch thanks to the on-board CCTV facilities. Then, after delivering its human cargo, driving itself back home and parking itself neatly (three or four can be stored sideways in a conventional bay), it would be time for one or more of the parents to climb in for the morning commute to the office.
After doing its self-driving, self-retrieval and self-parking, the EN-V can idle for a while and fully recharge its lithium-ion phosphate battery pack, a process that takes only two to six hours. Alternatively, it can recharge faster when exploiting inducted (cordless) power technology, which will be available - in part at least - from beneath future road surfaces. The icing on the cake is that regenerative braking provides additional juice for the two brushless DC propulsion motors.
With all this in mind, while the owner is at work from 9-5 they could possibly allow the EN-V to earn its keep by hiring it out as a sort of automated taxi that doesn’t need an expensive driver who expects a tip."
Would you be willing to give away the experience of driving a car for a smoother commute? Even if the EN-V produces GM's goals of low running costs, lower parking fees, cheaper insurance policies and a more affordable $10,000 price-tag, it's hard to believe that the great-grandsons of boys who dreamt of Corvettes and Pontiac GTOs will drool over this design:
GM's 2010 EN-V launch video:
(H/T: Business Insider)