Keep It Simple, Segway -- Don't Team Up With GM

from the 2-wheels-are-better-than-3-or-4 dept

GM and Segway have demonstrated a 2-wheeled vehicle they call PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). It's basically a bigger Segway that's smaller than a car, but bigger than a scooter because it seats 2 people side-by-side. Having recently visited Saigon (and seen Top Gear's Vietnam Special), I find the technological achievement of the PUMA to be absolutely ridiculous considering the time-tested utility of a 2-wheeled motorcycle (which can easily transport 2 people and zoom through insane traffic at the same time). In fact, the PUMA Project symbolizes many of the failures of the American auto industry. Instead of taking existing technologies and innovating by adapting them to suit practical needs, the PUMA Project simply takes an existing product and makes it bigger, not necessarily better. Okay, obviously, the PUMA Project is just a prototype and not meant for real world usage. But perhaps the time to show off impractical concept vehicles is not during one of the worst global recessions?

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  1. icon
    rwahrens (profile), 8 Apr 2009 @ 5:30am

    not a segway

    I don't see the problem here. If you had seen the short video they showed on the news last night, you'd see their concept of how a small car like this could help transportation.

    First, it'll do what a bike or motorcycle can't. It'll keep the weather off of you. I have a short 1.5 mile commute - and I'll stay away from vehicles that don't keep the wind, snow and rain off of me - I want to get to work dry and warm. Like MANY Americans, I am not a physically fit enough person to drive that bike up the hills many people have to commute over, so a bike is a no go from the start. Second, it takes up less space on the road and is MUCH more maneuverable than a standard car. The video shows short "trains" of these making their way down the road - an indication that they are conceived to be "smart" cars - capable of joining short trains to allow the operator to be merely a rider for much of a commute, which will hugely reduce accidents. A motorbike will never be able to do that.

    Small means cheap. Less energy to move, less to store, smaller batteries. Energy costs less per trip, car is cheaper cause the batteries are smaller, less expensive. Small also means a city can fit more of them to the same amount of parking space - something many inner cities are running out of. More fit onto the same amount of road - another limited commodity!

    The "concept" here is TRANSPORTATION - as in commuter transportation - which is a HUGE market. A huge percentage of Americans that commute within a city do so alone, or with only one other person. A vehicle like this is ideal for such an arrangement with very little addition - perhaps a small trunk for shopping purposes and a few comfort conveniences.

    Reduce the cars Americans drive to work with to something this size - even if only 40% of them do so, and the savings in oil used alone is huge, and the additional savings to cities in increased parking space, more people fit on the roads, cleaner air and so forth are even bigger. Plus, roads would last much longer because these things would weigh MUCH less than standard cars, thus less wear on the roads.

    For my short commute, I'd buy something like this in a heartbeat, if it was weatherproof. I would, of course, keep my bigger vehicle for other purposes, such as shopping for stuff that's too big for the little one, vacations that I can drive on, day trips, etc. But this kind of vehicle could replace 60% of the milage I put on that bigger car every year, making it last longer.

    Another savings!

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