GM and SAIC Show New Electric Commuter Concept
General Motors and its Chinese partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), have unveiled their latest take on an electric-powered urbocar. Dubbed the EN-V -- for Electric Networked-Vehicle -- it will make its formal world debut in May at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai. This diminutive commuter was conceived in three distinct variants, each reflecting a unique take on the personality of future sustainable mobility. The Xiao (Laugh) was designed by GM Holden's design team in Australia, the Jiao (Pride) is the work of designers at GM Europe and the Miao (Magic), pictured here, came from a team at the General Motors Advanced Design Studio in the U.S. state of California. An evolution of the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype that was co-developed with Segway and debuted in April 2009, the more commercially-oriented EN-V provides room for two people and a small amount of luggage. Each dynamically gyro-stabilized wheel is fitted with an electric motor powered by a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. It gives the EN-V a top speed of 35 mph, a range of at 25 miles and can be recharged from either a standard wall socket or dedicated commercial unit. The bodywork and canopy structures of all three EN-V variants is made from carbon fiber, custom-tinted Lexan and various acrylics, mass-minimizing choices that keep the curb weight at a mere 1,102 pounds. In addition to complete "by-wire" control functions and built-in Wi-Fi, the EN-V boasts a Global Positioning System (GPS) with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, which allows it to be driven manually or operate autonomously. When switched into the latter hands-free mode, GM says the EN-V will be able to use its real-time traffic info capabilities to select routes that will avoid congestion and speed up commutes in even the worst megacity conditions.