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GM unveils 2-wheel, self-driving concept car

1,100-pound Electric Networked-Vehicle uses wheel-based lithium-ion batteries

March 25, 2010 03:59 PM ET

Computerworld - General Motors Corp.'s vision of the city driving future includes entails two-wheeled, two-seater electric cars that can automatically navigate through traffic while connecting passengers to their favorite social networks.

A concept car, dubbed Electric Networked-Vehicle or EN-V and showed off in Shanghai by the automaker yesterday, tops out at 25 miles per hour and uses Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and vehicle-to-vehicle communications to find the least congested and fastest routes. The vehicle can be run manually or driver-less, according to GM.

The company said it hopes such vehicles will be populating city streets by 2030.

"EN-V reinvents the automobile by creating a new vehicle DNA through the convergence of electrification and connectivity," said Kevin Wale, president of the GM China Group, in a statement. "It provides an ideal solution for urban mobility that enables future driving to be free from petroleum and emissions, free from congestion and accidents, and more fun and fashionable than ever before."

Automakers and academic researchers have been spending a lot of time coming up with ideas to make cars more energy efficient, safer, easier to drive and easier to maneuver through crowded city streets.

GM said it worked with Segway Inc., developer of a personal transportation vehicle, to develop the EN-V vehicle. Segway helped the auto maker develop a drivetrain platform and stabilizing technology for the concept car.

The EN-V is propelled by lithium-ion battery-powered electric motors installed in both of its wheels, according to GM. The motors can be recharged from a normal wall outlet and can travel nearly 25 miles on a single charge, the company said.

The five-foot long concept car weighs some 1,100 pounds, compared to today's average automobile's length of 15 feet and weight of more than 3,300 pounds.

GM calculates that five EN-Vs can fit into one of today's traditional parking spaces.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at Twitter@lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed Mearian RSS. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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