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Hoveround Users of The World, Unite!

I doubt that General Motors executives ever, in their wildest dreams, imagined that one day their chief competitor might be The Scooter Store:

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.


GM has slashed product-development programs, advertising and spending on auto-show events. But it will take to the streets of Manhattan on Tuesday to show off a prototype of the vehicle, called PUMA, for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility.

The Segway Personal Transporter was launched with considerable hype eight years ago but practical issues prevented the scooter from becoming a mass-market product, including its relatively high cost and restrictions on its use in many jurisdictions.

More info, and more photos, are available here from Scientific American.

Seriously -- and I really mean this -- who besides the Shriners is going to be interested in these things? Again we have another "car of the future" that holds two small adults maximum, provides no climate control (although this one at least has a roof) and has no cargo capacity. A 35 mile range might be useful if you live, shop, and work downtown in a major metropolitan area, but 1) most of those areas are already served by sufficient public transportation, and 2) 35 miles wouldn't even cover one afternoon of errand-running in most sprawled American cities -- not to mention the fact that you'd be driving around at 30 mph, tops.

And the brilliance of GM partnering with a company whose flagship product was an over-engineered toy that failed as a mass-market vehicle because of "practical issues" just leaves me speechless. Mall cops should be happy, though. At least now they will be able to sit down ... oh wait, they already have golf carts for that. Never mind.

Once upon a time, Americans used to dream big. The future we envisioned was one of better things: faster, more efficient, more powerful, and aesthetically stunning. It was not a future of "small electric cars and windmills," as Daniel Henninger tersely described it.

Oh well ... welcome to the future of "hope and change," I guess.


On second thought, I wouldn't be surprised to see a GM / Shriners partnership sometime in the near future.



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Comments (29)

But...but...it's electrical... (Below threshold)

But...but...it's electrical! Obama will pay me to buy one! But wait! There's MORE! Buy one now and Obama will personally guarantee it! Imagine that! A tax refund and a full bumperette to bumperette warranty backed by the full faith and credit of the Obama Administration! Plus, we'll save the polar bears! Got that, Mr. camera guy?

On the Big Rock Candy Mountain
The cops have wooden legs...

GM wants to get back to its... (Below threshold)

GM wants to get back to its position of pre-eminence by building golf carts and moon buggies.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Parisians, they would suck ... (Below threshold)

Parisians, they would suck them up by the thousands. Having just been there and seen the number of micro cars running around, glorified scooters with tops and other small means of conveyance that park in tiny spots, I can tell you they would appreciate something like this. mpw

Where's the golf bag go?</p... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

Where's the golf bag go?

It's a way, way overpriced ... (Below threshold)

It's a way, way overpriced golf cart.

Except you need to have somebody run behind you, carrying the clubs. That must be part of those millions of jobs he promised.

I think they just hate cab ... (Below threshold)

I think they just hate cab drivers. This is obviously another ploy by the white man trying to trying to put the minorities out business.


I ride a bicycle when the w... (Below threshold)

I ride a bicycle when the weather is nice. I think the PUMA is cool and I want one. I am shocked at the negativity it has received. If we can't have open minds, and a sense for fun and adventure, we may as well surrender to OPEC's plan to keep us enslaved.

"...provides no climate con... (Below threshold)

"...provides no climate control...."

Just the thing for running around Florida during the summer. No more need for dieting, you'll sweat off those unwanted pounds.

But, it will be a big boom to the economy. Think of all the new roads and recharge stations we will have to build, since you can't run them on the existing roads or the sidewalks.

Hermie - actually I was thi... (Below threshold)

Hermie - actually I was thinking "self-propelled rickshaw."

mpw280 - you're exactly right. This kind of vehicle would be perfect for any city built during the pedestrian/horse and cart era that was now suffers from its overcrowded, narrow, winding streets. But in suburban America, forget it.

35 miles wouldn't even c... (Below threshold)

35 miles wouldn't even cover one afternoon of errand-running in most sprawled American cities

Oh, Michael. Again, cynic that you are, you have forgotten that the ground has shifted beneath you. In the brave new world you will neither need nor be allowed to do any such thing.

I suspect the main market f... (Below threshold)

I suspect the main market for this purported "vehicle" will be the Village People, Ed Begley and middle-aged women with helmets and The Perpetual Smile of Pleasantness. If only they can find space to put all their bumper stickers...

Hey, c'mon! It's for the f*cking polar bears!

Little yellow triangle in t... (Below threshold)

Little yellow triangle in the rear window:


Get that thing away from me... (Below threshold)

Get that thing away from me!

Of course this would be a U... (Below threshold)

Of course this would be a U.K. based company. *thud* I back away from anything that starts with the word "Project".

South Korea, on the other hand, is trying to sell you their "soul" so you can be a happy little hamster that's been freed from your spinning wheel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ-CDE_r_wg

I doubt that General Mot... (Below threshold)

I doubt that General Motors executives ever, in their wildest dreams, imagined that one day their chief competitor might be The Scooter Store:

I nearly choked on my breakfast! LOl

Let's see....what happens w... (Below threshold)

Let's see....what happens when PUMA meets F-350?

F-350 + PUMA = Grease spot

Looks like a nice way to ge... (Below threshold)

Looks like a nice way to get killed or horribly maimed. But of course if you die, that's good for the environment.

The Segway technology has b... (Below threshold)

The Segway technology has been a white elephant since it's inception. The original Segway failed for "practical issues"?...yea, issues like no one wanted it! The only customers they could get were either stupid (government) or desperate (GM). "Over engineered" is an understatement, just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should. A third wheel would be far less expensive.

To save energy in order to ... (Below threshold)

To save energy in order to fight global warming/climate change, Obama will only allow those transporting large loads to drive trucks. The rest of us will be moving around in these GM-Segway minis. Of course, when there is the occasional truck-mini collision, we may lose a few lives but it's all worth it to save the planet.

I think its kind of a neat ... (Below threshold)

I think its kind of a neat car - but its also a very expensive solution to a problem that has already been solved.

Just like during the gas shortage/"gotta buy a hybrid craze" last year - I can buy a 10 yr old geo metro for 1/2 the cost and get all of the economy and twice the functionality.

You know, having lived in a... (Below threshold)

You know, having lived in a crowded city with nothing but street parking, and sometimes MAYBE finding a spot 3 blocks away from our house, exactly what would I do if I were to need a charge on this thing, and can't get a spot beside the row house?

Or for that matter, I haven't seen too many recharge stations in any parking garages (if it were to need one). In fact, I haven't seen any.

To say nothing of battery performance. Quick question for everyone that's stoked by one of these. When you first bought you cell phone, how long did the charge last? For me, it lasted 3-4 days. Now, several months later... it lasts 1-2. My last cell phone, before getting this new one, needed a charge every day, sometimes a couple times a day.

What are the battery costs for these PUMAs going to be? What about their performance? Will their range still be 35 miles after a few months of vigorous use, or with that drop (most likely). How useful will a 20-25 mile range be then?

I'm sorry, but Segways (and this Puma by extension) are a boondoggle. Hydrogen and algae grown biodiesel (a new tech I learned about last year)... now THAT's something I can believe in.

Where's the golf b... (Below threshold)
Where's the golf bag go?

4. Posted by Pretzel Logic

Forget that. Where do the GOLF BALLS go?

How about people do some fo... (Below threshold)
Tim in TX:

How about people do some form of transportation that involves their fat asses walking or at least standing (mass transit) instead?

This does nothing for anyone not living outside a city. Cities provide a lot of gains and benefits for people - obviously, or else we wouldn't have made the damn things. But the problem is that the same sort of people who are willing to put up with living in such a place because of all the wonderful "culture", or because it is close to their high paying jobs, also tend to vote for idiots who create programs that attract welfare leeches.

I'd love to live in a city - if it didn't have the associated slums and welfare train. But a city without those things is not really a city anymore - it's an arcology. And I'm surprised we haven't seen any sizable ones founded yet.

Tom M - "am shocked at ... (Below threshold)

Tom M - "am shocked at the negativity it has received. If we can't have open minds, and a sense for fun and adventure, we may as well surrender to OPEC's plan to keep us enslaved.

Minds are open, and the result is this is nothing more than a plaything with little to no practical use.

EXSubNuc - "What are the battery costs for these PUMAs going to be? What about their performance?"

Good point, the "future" as envisioned now are the use of lithium batteries for most of the proposed battery-powered cars.

Close to half the world's known lithium reserves are located in Bolivia and both Japan and French are falling over themselves to ink production contracts.

What happens when all these lithium batteries are junked? They are highly corrosive and breathing any of the dust leads to fluid on the lungs.

Then there is this problem.

"This isn't a magic solution" Mitsubishi, which plans to release its own electric car soon, estimates that the demand for lithium will outstrip supply in less than 10 years unless new sources are found.
And they have ended up in Bolivia.

"The demand for lithium won't double but increase by five times," according to Eichi Maeyama Mitsubishi's general manager in La Paz.
"We will need more lithium sources - and 50% of the world's reserves of lithium exist in Bolivia, in the Salar de Uyuni," he adds, pointing out that without new production, the price of lithium will rise prohibitively.

Oops, there goes the cost of the Volt skyward. Again.

Bolivia is not a country known to be friendly to foreign industry.

Its socialist president, Evo Morales, is keen to expand state control over its natural resources, a task carried out by Bolivia's minister for mining, Luis Alberto Echazu.

"We want to send a message to the industrialized countries and their companies," Mr Echazu says. "We will not repeat the historical experience since the fifteenth century: raw materials exported for the industrialisation of the west that has left us poor."

Oppsy again.

obama might wanna go on one of his Hearts & Flowers tours in Bolivia (and get more out of it than he did in the EU), Morales is an avowed socialist, they might have a lot in comon to talk about.

On my way to Arizona today,... (Below threshold)

On my way to Arizona today, I almost ran over a "solar" vehicle also heading east bound.....at about 55mph. One person, no payload.

Your tax dollars at work...... (Below threshold)

Your tax dollars at work...

"On my way to Arizona today... (Below threshold)

"On my way to Arizona today, I almost ran over a "solar" vehicle also heading east bound.....at about 55mph. One person, no payload"

Hey Garand, say hello to Sheriff Joe for us...

Yet another reason that Ric... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Yet another reason that Rick Wagoner is no longer the CEO of GM.

The biggest problem for the... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The biggest problem for the PUMA is that it looks like a garbage bin. If you were sitting in your PUMA parked next to the curb and a garbage truck came by you would find yourself being dumped into the trash. Seriously, there's no logic in having a transverse two wheeled car. The self-balancing fails on slippery pavement as Segway riders have found out, and if you hit a potholes you might find yourself thrown into the oncoming lane. If this is the kind of junk GM is going to be putting out then let them file for bankruptcy.






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