Segway-based electric two-seater is GM's vision of the future

This is the EN-V concept car, an upright two-seat urban runabout that promises a brighter, cleaner, cleverer and more convenient future for the city car.

Hailed as General Motors's most significant concept since the Chevrolet Volt, the EN-V has been designed and developed with its Chinese joint venture partner SAIC.

See pictures of the GM EN-V concept car pictures

Matt Saunders blog: Up close with the car of tomorrow

Three versions of the EN-V concept car have been designed, but each is based on the same mechanical platform. Each is roughly six feet tall, four feet wide and four feet long.

Each variant seats two occupants side by side and has a wheel at both ends of the lateral centre line of the car. Each wheel is powered by a 3kW electric motor drawing power from a battery of lithium ion cells.

GM says the EN-V will do around 25mph flat out and has a 25-mile range on a full charge, but claims that both of those figures will be sufficient to make the car suitable for use in traffic-jammed 21st-century cities, where you could fit four EN-Vs into the same road space taken up by a typical family car.

This concept has been three years in the making, and adopts Segway mechanicals as the basis for its propulsion system. However, unlike on a Segway, where the rider controls forwards and backwards movement of the vehicle using just his balance interpreted by a series of gyroscopic sensors, the EN-V’s driver sits normally, using a by-wire steering system, hand-operated accelerator and brake.

That’s because the EN-V automatically shifts its weight front to rear by electrically adjusting the position of its body relative to its chassis below. It therefore has the ability to instinctively and automatically balance on only one axle like a man on a unicycle, and is much more manoeuvrable than cars with two axles. It can turn 180 degrees within its own body length, and be parked in the most restricted urban spaces.

The EN-V is also capable of both ‘vehicle-to-vehicle’ and ‘vehicle-to-network’ communication, and can read, interpret and understand both its location and the road ahead using its GPS system, as well as various transceivers and cameras on its body.

The EN-V can be ‘fully autonomous’: it could drive you 10 miles to work, drive itself home again to charge, and be back to collect you at 6.00pm. Thanks to its ‘vehicle-to-network’ connectivity, you could even work while it drove you home.

The EN-V’s ‘vehicle-to-vehicle’ communication system also means that it could adjust its route to work on the strength of traffic information supplied by another EN-V stuck in traffic further down the road. Alternatively, it could ‘platoon’ with other EN-Vs headed in the same direction at the same time on the same road: in effect, drive in an automatically governed close convoy to reduce drag and save energy.

The car also has the latest electronic crash detection and avoidance systems. As a result it should be impossible to crash, and for that reason, needs no crash protection structures. So it’s made of lightweight plastic and carbonfibre and weighs less than 400kg, even with its relatively heavy electric motors and batteries accounted for.

The three versions of the EN-V on show in Shanghai are called Xiao, Jiao and Miao. Each was designed at a different global GM design studio, and shows a different side of the EN-V’s personality.

All of the cars were engineered, developed and finished by GM’s Advanced R&D team in Michigan, USA, under the direction of Briton Chris Borroni-Bird.

"Our brief was always to create a far-off concept car with the EN-V," says GM international operations design vice-president Ken Parkinson. "There would be serious questions to answer before we could put it into production tomorrow, about safety and infrastructure and product liability primarily. We’re working to answer those questions."

Matt Saunders

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Comments
40

24 March 2010

So, we're all going to be driving Motability Scooters?

24 March 2010

I didn't know you celebrated April Fool's Day in the UK. You're a week early. As a US taxpayer I'm glad to see the $60 billion bailout of GM is being well spent.

24 March 2010

come on GM this makes the Agila look attractive

24 March 2010

[quote hb freddie]

I didn't know you celebrated April Fool's Day in the UK.

[/quote]

Hey, you wrote in English! We speak English here too! (Who do you think introduced All Fool's Day to the Colonies hundreds of years ago?)

24 March 2010

The future, eh?

Shoot me now.

Where has all Japanese design went to?

24 March 2010

So, it 'needs no crash structures' eh? Try to remember that when you've just been flattened by one of the forthcoming 60 tonne trucks. Maybe they'll be balancing on two wheels by then too. Or perhaps we will have constructed ourselves such a wonderful utopian society that there will no longer be a need to move goods around. Let's face it, the car hasn't really changed much in 100 years, and neither has the infrastructure. This is a schoolboys dream.

24 March 2010

Well this is certainly a lot more interesting than most "concepts", which are largely styling exercises based around conventional cars. And it does show some intelligent thinking: for a start it is probably the right size (and weight) for urban transport and heavily automated - surely a good thing for collision avoidance? OK there are some obvious problems - it wouldn't work on the UK's broken up roads, and judging fro the reaction here, it would be next to impossible to sell - but as a concept, I applaud this effort. It's not as daft as it looks!

24 March 2010

Thwarted, it's worse than that. Obama said, "We invented solar technology, but we've fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it."

An English scientist (Willoughby Smith) discovered that selenium was photoconductive, and a French scientist (Alexandre Edmond Becquerel) discovered the photovoltaic effect. While the car was first invented by the British, French and Russians - with Germans inventing one with a 'gas' fired engine.

They don't even know that we invented computers, the internet, the jet engine etc. There are times the Americans really get on my nerves. Ignorance is no excuse.

24 March 2010

Well we thought the Cygnet looked lik a washing machine this one is deffo a Dyson Inspired washing machine or maybe a JIM diving suit that would get more jokes aimed at it than the Sinclair C5 and Reliant Robin put together lol

24 March 2010

This may work in some utopian dream world from a science fiction movie, but on the pot holed, speed bumped riddled London Streets of my daily drive, it would be ridiculous. It's not an alternative to the motor car, but an alternative to legs. It's for fat Americans to trundle across the mall and collect their next fix of burger and fries with extra cheese. Crash avoidance my stop it crashing into things, but it can't stop other vehicles crashing into it.

 

 

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