GM’s future vision

Posted on 25 Mar 2010 by The Manufacturer

General Motor and its strategic partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. has announced the development of a new vehicle geared specifically for future personal urban transportation.

GM reports that by 2030 urban areas will become the greatest concentration of the world’s 8 billion people holding 60 percent of the population. Due to this growth public infrastructure will suffer caused by the increased demand for transportation and basic services. To combat this GM and SAIC have developed a new vehicle form called EN-V. This vehicle form changes the landscape of the automobile from its present identity and available means of production.

EN-V, short for Electric Networked-Vehicle, is a two-seat electric vehicle designed to handle concerns involving increased traffic congestion, parking availability, air quality and affordability while maintaining the core principle of personal mobility.

The first three EN-V models were unveiled today in Shanghai. The concepts will also be showcased at the SAIC-GM Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai on May 1. The mega-city of Shanghai is important as a developing ground for ideas to help solve personal mobility problems of the future.
The EN-V concept is first and foremost designed to be compact and lightweight.

“EN-V incorporates significant technology and material innovation, which has given the design team a whole new world to explore,” said Clay Dean, Director of Advanced Design for GM North America. “Because of the lightweight structures, materials and integrated controls, we created unique surface forms not traditionally found in automotive applications.”

EN-Vs compact size, about 5ft by 5ft, and small turning radius makes it adaptable to densely populated areas and allows parking lots to accommodate five times more automobiles. The body and canopy of the EN-V is constructed with materials normally reserved for race cars and spacecraft. Carbon fiber, custom-tinted Lexan and acrylic are incorporated for their strength to weight ratio.

The EN-V platform evolved from the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A) prototype originally developed by Segway. Segway has worked alongside GM on the development of the EN-V’s drivetrain.

EN-Vs operate by electric motors contained in each of its two driving-mode wheels. The EN-V motors are capable of a top speed of 25mph. The motors actually control the cars momentum as well as its stopping capability. Power for the motors comes from zero emission lithium-ion batteries. A fully charged EN-V can travel 40 kilometers on a single charge and can communicate with the public electric grid to determine the best time to recharge. Recharging can occur conveniently from conventional wall outlets.

Everything in EN-V is drive-by-wire allowing the driver to choose manual or autonomous control. GM has been a leader in autonomous technology development following the release of the “The Boss” Chevrolet Tahoe in 2007. The EN-V uses Global Positioning Systems with vehicle–to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies to allow for this autonomous capability. GM and SAIC hope the EN-V’s ability to communicate with other vehicles as well as the infrastructure can reduce the number of vehicle accidents. EN-V can actually “sense” what is around it through the use of sensors and camera systems. Also with an autonomous option reduction of traffic congestion is targeted allowing the EN-V to select the fastest route.

“EN-V reinvents the automobile by creating a new vehicle DNA through the convergence of electrification and connectivity.” said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group. “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.”
Mike Dulin