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Tech Industry: GM En-v

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Tech Industry: GM En-v

3:09 /

Brian Cooley takes a ride on GM's newest two-wheeled electric concept car, called the En-v, at CES 2011 in Las Vegas

-What would you get if your crossbred a Chevy Cruze with a Segway Scooter? Something like this. This is the GM ENV. It stands for Electric Network Vehicle and it's not like any car you've been in before. The reason this vehicle's so different is because it looks forward to a world that is very different as well--a lot more people, more living in cities than even today. That means we have to make more of our roads, not make more roads, so, you have a vehicle, first of all, that is very small. It's almost 4 feet shorter than a Smart Car. That's pretty small. And, of course, we have 2 wheels, not 4; 1 here, 1 on the other ferrying on the other side of the vehicle. They're electric, all electric here, and no gas. And as I mentioned, there's Segway Scooter technology in this guy. It actually gets up on those rear wheels and balances; doesn't tip back or forth, but it almost has a living, breathing nature to it. The technology that's perhaps the most revolutionary on this vehicle is the networking--not to connect your iPad while you're driving, but to connect this vehicle to others. It's what's called an autonomous car. Using GPS, short-range wireless communication, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors, it can work with cars on the road to make a train, if you will, of tightly compacted vehicles that drive themselves even at highway speeds. You see, putting 6 or 8 vehicles in the space that is currently used by 1 plus the gap to the next car is a lot more efficient than increasing the size of our roads and their capacity by 6 or 8 times. That's the big idea here. Now clearly, we've got a different kind of packaging, as they say in the auto business, than in your typical car. That's it: 2 seats, side by side; no trunk; no hood; nothing in front; nothing in back. Very intimate driving but it's amazing, when you actually get in there, how efficient this thing is. Let's go for a ride. And this is how we start. We push this button. It has a little yingle symbol on it, and the whole thing tips up. Now, we're on our-- our hind wheels, if you will, and we're balancing with the same technology that keeps a Segway Scooter from dumping you on your face. Now, when it comes a time to stop, it's kind of a similar process. You bring it to a stop and you push a button, same one, and watch this. The car's gonna nose down onto these little trucks that just keep it totally stable for getting in and out of the vehicle, and there we go; lifted the canopy, kinda like a really cool high-end jet. Hi, how are you? And here we are--the future of driving. What I like most about these vehicles is they take the efficient footprint of a bicycle or a motorcycle, but they erased the exposure to the elements because you've got a canopy over you. You've got a real cabin around you. So, you're not trying to go back and forth to work getting soaked in the rain and peddling and getting all sweaty. It has a nice middle ground to all this. That said, this is not coming to showrooms anytime soon; General Motors figures somewhere in the vision of around 2030. This might be something you see showing up in some real numbers in the most congested mega-cities around the world.

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