General Motors and Segway have announced a joint venture to produce a small 2-passenger electric vehicle, based on Segway’s balancing technology. The prototype, named the P.U.M.A., (short for Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility), includes some notable concepts, including networked communications technologies which [could] allow the vehicles to avoid collisions and participate in an on-demand transit network. Jim Norrod, chief executive of Segway, had this to say, “We’re excited about doing more with less, less emissions, less dependability on foreign oil and less space.” This appears to be a move by General Motors to focus on more environmentally-friendly vehicles and could potentially signal a greater change in GM’s strategy.
A few days ago, Joel Makower wrote about the American obsession with automobiles. This obsession has translated into the current rush to produce marketable electric cars. He laments that switching from gasoline to electricity merely clouds the fact that personally-owned vehicles are inherently wasteful and unsustainable. Makower suggests that what is needed is a shift to a greater focus on providing transportation solutions, not just building more cars. If the automakers could reinvent themselves as “transportation providers,” perhaps they could begin to focus on providing the most efficient solutions to transportation problems. This would most likely lead them to the realization that the solution involves doing more with less. The P.U.M.A. vehicle appears to be a step towards this type of better design and whole-systems thinking.Click to continue reading »