Posted at 11:37 AM on April 8, 2009
by Sanden Totten
GM and Segway, now there's a winning combination. One is a failing car company whose CEO was basically fired by the government. The other invented the preferred mode of transportation of Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Now they have joined forces to reinvent personal transportion.
I think I speak for all of us when I say "whaa?"
Introducing the PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility). It's a prototype of a new vehicle. Imagine driving around New York City in a giant Cadbury Creme Egg, hated by all the bikers for clogging their lane and barely noticed by cars who mistake you for a misplaced newspaper box. Sounds great right?
The bad news is, they don't seem to shield you from the weather (certain death in Minnesota). And they have just enough room for you and your morning coffee. Technically the PUMA is a two-seater, but unless you are married or at least in a long-term relationship, it might be indecent to ride that way.
But they are apparently great for spinning in circles around scenic landmarks.
So how about it loyal Loophole readers? Would you make this your new ride?
My first thought was that it looks like an upright trash dumpster in motion. I also couldn't help but think that were it not using power to keep itself upright, how much further would the range be? The Segway has hardly been a roll-away success, yet they seem stuck in the form factor. I'd hoped for something more essential and innovative. It's also just so transparently GM clutching at straws.
My Vespa GT carries two, gets a reliable 60 mpg, will do 75 mph, and has a range of almost 150 miles. I'm really jazzed about alternate transportation, but I don't see this wooing me any time soon.
I can just imagine what would happen if you hit a pot hole!
It's a positive sign that people aren't only thinking outside the box, but are putting their money into the ideas too.
A PUMA doesn't make sense for someone commuting from Lakeville to Minneapolis. But it might make sense for someone who lives 2 or 3 miles from a light rail station & works downtown.
If it's powered by electricity, in just about every place in the world it's NOT "zero emissions". Unless the electricity is hydroelectric or nuclear, there are plenty of emissions being produced by coal, oil, or gas-fired plants.
I agree with bsimon...great idea if used in conjunction with mass transit...it's frustrating, though, to have people just think of a new car as solving the car problem. Even without emissions, I think cars are what make the problem, the fact that everyone is trying to go a different place at their own speed on their own agenda. In urban areas, the problem will be solved with better designed transit, I think.