At risk of being obvious, things aren’t going well at GM. But despite tens of thousands of job losses, the chainsaw divorce from Saab and boss Rick Wagoner’s departure, I still reckoned that the company and most of its many brands had some kind of future.
But now I’m worried. The news that GM is going to collaborate with Segway to produce a two-wheeled, two seat, all-electric city car had me – and many forum users – checking calendars to confirm that 1 April fell last Wednesday.
If this really is what’s left in the corporate idea drawer then the General is in serious trouble.
I’ve ridden a Segway twice, and fallen off one once. My conclusion on both occasions was that it was one of the dumbest ideas in the history of personal transportation: something less practical than a bike, costing more than a scooter and yet incapable of surmounting a low kerb.
I know the announcement needs to be seen in context of GM’s struggle to stay afloat via another round of US Federal funding – something another green gesture might go some way towards unlocking. But one this desperate? It makes Chrysler’s hurried decision to acquire a golf-buggy manufacturer earlier this year look like intelligent, high-level strategy.
The Segway has never been the answer to any question other than “how can I look like a berk and possibly break my nose in the process?”
GM, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.