Is it the car of the future? The Segway of the future? An idea destined to go nowhere? Something in between? Today GM unveiled the PUMA, a two-wheeled city vehicle built in collaboration with Segway. PUMA stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, and the idea is to create a small, highly maneuverable mini-car ideal for congested cities where the traffic is slow and the parking is nonexistent.
The (let's be honest here) rather unattractive prototype you see here is the first generation, to be followed by more polished prototypes in the fall and then Minority Report-looking pod vehicles next year. The PUMA seats two and runs on wheel motors that are powered by lithium-ion batteries. Thanks to torque steering, the PUMA can perform zero radius turns, which will sound fantastic to anyone who's ever had to pull a 17-point-turn in the parking lot of a Brooklyn gas station while surrounded by a swarm of honking taxis. (Not that PUMA drivers will be buying gas, of course.) It drives essentially like a Segway-- lean forward to go, lean back to slow down or stop, and so on. In park mode, a few small additional wheels drop down to plant the 700-pound vehicle firmly in place.
As Larry Burns, GM's vice president for strategic planning and R&D, emphasized yesterday in a press briefing, the goal of the PUMA isn't just to create a small, cheap, nimble vehicle for hellish big-city driving. It's to start playing with vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity, in which cheap, Blackberry-size transponders in the PUMA communicate with other cars, traffic signals, and even pedestrians, who could carry transponders in their backpacks or purses. In an ideal, transponder-rich environment, if someone carrying a transponder steps out in front of your vehicle (the word "car" somehow doesn't seem right for the PUMA), that device will communicate with your car and warn you both of an imminent collision, and even stop your vehicle for you.
This is all wildly ambitious, of course, and it might not make any business sense. But we like wild ideas, and we'll reserve judgment until the fall, when GM says it'll have Gen-2 prototypes ready for the press to drive.
Segway >> Willy Wonka
GM >> Oompa Loompa
Gadget Invented >> Puma
Whats even more annoying is the "single-file" , "talking to each other" sci-fi save-the-world vision bit.
What a waste of tax payers money. Sheesh !
Maybe its just me but it doesn't seem to have much of an advantage over a golf cart
Just further proof why GM isn't going to make it any longer in the car industry--yea I can see how popular it's going to be to ride around town in a powered wheel chair. This is the road that will be traveled by president CEO of GM--straight into the ground. RSVP!
The PUMA makes for a great technology demonstrator but there is nothing practical about it. There is not a market for people that want to drive a micro-sized car that doesn't have a steering wheel. The PUMA represents GM's attempt to think outside the box, not a legitimate attempt to put egg shaped vehicles in people's driveways.
I am from a diehard GM fmaily and this is great but at the wrong time. GM needs to focus on their current cars and sales to avoid bankruptcy, instead they keep designing new concepts that will probably never make production
They are running out of time! If something doesnt change there will no longer be a GM in america at least
Agreed, big waste of dollars on this one. If there is not a 1 million plus unit sales market for regular Segways, (Only 50,000 have ever been sold since 2001!), how are you going to hope to turn your corporation around with a two seater version? Too complicated to fix, too big for a sidewalk, too slow and dangerous for the busy street. Come on now!
I like to think happy thoughts about saving the evironment and the American car industry, but this is not the answer.
Did your tax bailout money help pay for this?
Stolen directly from this cartoon...
if u go to google u can search it and find pictures of puma and it actually has a steering wheel!
yeah lets spend a trillion taxpayers dollars on this piece of junk.
What in the world is GM thinking? That's right they're not thinking, which is why they are in bankruptcy.
I agree with suzyjenkins General motors ought to go back to drawing board anything such as PUMA. Car pooling is back so is using the public transportation you 'll motice it 's up in ridership any where from 33 % to as high 68 % when the gasoline prices climb.
Are you guys concerned about the Puma or about GM going bankrupt.... Cause I'm pretty sure this article was about a vehicle. GM got where it is today because it didnt do anything new and drastic, like the puma, while European and Asian companies revolutionized their vehicles.
Even if this looks like a bad idea, its not anywhere close to a commercial model. It's a testbed for new ideas. If they dont make it into a car, the technology could have some use in other walks of life, and I'm sure GM would be happy to profit in whatever way they can.
Like the author so eloquently put "we like wild ideas, and we'll reserve judgment until the fall, when GM says it'll have Gen-2 prototypes ready for the press to drive."
Lets give it a break until they get the feedback from the first one :)