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GM Unveils Networked Electric Mini Cars 206

Posted by samzenpus
from the many-small-accidents-waiting-to-happen dept.
suraj.sun writes "GM introduced its Electric Networked Vehicle prototypes, one third the size of a typical car, as a way to reduce big urban auto emissions and traffic congestion. The EN-V relies on dynamic stabilization technology similar to that of the one-person Segway scooter to keep its balance, and can be operated autonomously or under manual control. In autonomous mode the EN-V is designed to use high-speed wireless connectivity and GPS navigation to automatically select the fastest route, based on real-time traffic conditions gleaned from the Web or some other networked source of traffic information."
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GM Unveils Networked Electric Mini Cars

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  • by adam (1231) * on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:11PM (#31605194)
    "...and can be operated autonomously or under manual control. In autonomous mode the EN-V is designed to use high-speed wireless connectivity and GPS navigation to automatically select the fastest route, based on real-time traffic conditions gleaned from the Web or some other networked source of traffic information."

    Seriously? Toyota — the guys who ate your lunch in the marketplace — can't even make a software-gas-pedal work correctly and you're trying to float an EV that navigates autonomously? Good luck with that. You guys need to stick to trying to make what people want now, not what Shatner fanboys are hoping will exist in 20 years. There are so many technical problems here I don't even know where to start. GPS can't detect when little kids run into the road chasing a soccer ball. Trust me, just work on making the Volt not suck, and maybe try to do something like the Aptera, and you'll be just fine.

    On a serious note, I don't get why companies introduce "concept" cars with shit they know can never exist in the near future, and with shit no one wants either. If the idea of a concept car is to "WOW" me with all the stuff you're working on making in the next 10 years, how about you start bragging about high density energy storage and biodiesel powerplants that run on algae-derived fuel. This is the stuff people want that isn't practical yet, but might be someday soon[ish]. No one gives a shit about Segway gyro (remember how well the Segway sold?*) and autonomous driving is best left for SciFi films.

    *Dean Kamen is a complete badass, though, and despite his misunderstanding of the market, DEKA's other work [wikipedia.org] is amazing.
    • by Cyberax (705495)

      Yet self-driving cars are the future. I believe that it's possible to make a much safer automatic car, eventually surpassing safety of even very good human drivers.

      And the best thing - I'll be able to read books while driving!

      We've discussed this in the past: http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/24/220225 [slashdot.org]

      • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:58PM (#31605610) Homepage

        And the best thing - I'll be able to read books while driving!

        Read books?! My passtime will involve curtains, a bottle of vodka and a bleach blond.

        Might want to think about getting out a little more. ;)

        • I already read books while driving. Audiobooks, of course.
          • by z0idberg (888892)

            I already read books while driving. Audiobooks, of course. *MAYVIN*

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Again (1351325)

            I already read books while driving. Audiobooks, of course.

            I can't stand how slow the people read.

            • The example automator actions that come with every mac include one that causes the speech system to create an audio-file and import it into iTunes. With a very little bit of tweaking, you can make it go at any speed you like.

              The disturbing thing about it is that some of their voices are an order of magnitude more audible than most of the libravox recordings over at Gutenberg.* But I guess you get what you pay for.

              *don't even bother listening to shakespeare or any poetry, they've got some absolutely daft y

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          My passtime will involve curtains, a bottle of vodka and a bleach blond.

          Be careful, peroxide can damage the rubber on an inflatable doll.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by riffenator (197038)

        Self driving cars are here!

        They're called trains.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Unfortunately, we have unions... therefore, our trains still have drivers and actual people to make the doors open and close.

      • It is possible, but it'll never happen, for the same reason it hasn't happened in the airline industry (where the route problem is actually much, much easier...)

        People are panicky and stupid.

        An automatic car system could reduce road deaths by 98%, but those remaining 2% will be errors in the software, so the whole thing would be derided as death-traps.

        On the other hand, I'd buy an automated car on almost any other network than Government Motors. I wouldn't trust that company with a 39 1/2 foot pole, and I

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Prof.Phreak (584152)

        indeed. I'm just now learning to drive (I'm kinda old to just be learning it). In any case, I'm surprised some things haven't been automated yet. Like would it kill the car to signal me that stop sign is coming up? It can't be that big of a deal from image processing point of view... heck, it could even assist on breaking (if it notices I'm going too fast to stop at the right distance). Or how about breaking when the car is about to hit something? (like... a driving instructor would do?). These things aren'

        • Hopefully, automated car systems will work better than in-line spellcheckers, and won't 'break' when the car is about to hit something.

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        Actually, you've spotted the #1 cause of accidents. Human failure. "I didn't see...", "I couldn't stop in time", and "I didn't realize..." are all fine excuses, but they're all human failures in operating thousands of pounds of motor vehicle.

        I don't really foresee self driving cars on the road any time soon though. Like, not in our lifetime. The first time a kid runs out in front of an automated car and gets run over because it couldn't detect a child playing in a yard as be

        • by Cyberax (705495)

          Why do you think a car can't identify playing children? Or for that matter, any pedestrian walking nearby.

          Yes, self-driving cars will need a lot of advances in computer vision. But I don't think it will be really impossible.

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            But that's the thing. What's the difference between someone walking on the sidewalk; standing at a curb waiting to cross a street; and waiting for a ball to be thrown to them. To us it's obvious. For a computer, it would take a full fledged AI in the car to evaluate what's happening. For us, we can analyze everything. It would require not only seeing the person, but reading their body language to determine what they *might* do. It would likely need to go beyond that, For example a squi

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Yet self-driving cars are the future

        It'll never fly in America, where cars, like corporations, are deemed to have the same rights as individuals.

        A country that's in love with handguns isn't going to give up their god-given Right from when Jesus and Ronald Reagan signed The Constitution to barrel down the federally-funded highways and burn up federally-subsidized oil supplies and listen to anti-government talk radio on the public airwaves. When the most vocal 20 percent of the population literally shat on t

        • "Sometimes I wonder why the rest of the world hasn't just wiped us off the map as a sensible preventive measure."

          Because a preemptive strike would imply the Bush doctrine was a good idea.
        • by Marcika (1003625)

          When the most vocal 20 percent of the population literally shat on the floor

          Either you don't know the meaning of "literally", or I really missed the best part of those reports about the tea parties...

        • economics.

          It isn't technical or insurance or litigation but economics.

          What does your car do when you are not using it? Nothing. you spent 30 thousand on a new car and iit spends 99% of it's time doing nothing.

          Well a sefl drive car doesn't have to do nothing. It can speed over town 24 hours per day 365 days per year taking people here and there. It can spread the 30 thousand cost over thousands of people an d thousands of journeys.

          What this means is that any individual who blows 30 grand on a new car will b

    • by plopez (54068) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:55PM (#31605580) Journal

      Yeah, it's just as ridiculous as building an airplane that can fl itself, as if it had some sort of autopilot.
      And maybe they'll put computers in them *some day* that can do most of the work on landing and take off. After all, the computer would have to be the size of a skyscraper.

      Seriously, in an HOV lane this would be easy and a reason to buy one. You could eat breakfast, talk on your cell phone (or text), do your makeup etc. in comfort.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amicusNYCL (1538833)

        Seriously, in an HOV lane this would be easy and a reason to buy one. You could eat breakfast, talk on your cell phone (or text), do your makeup etc. in comfort.

        And, with your top speed of 40kph, completely piss off everyone else on the highway.

        • Actually, I would be more worried about an autonomous car going 40kph than one going 100kph. On low speed roads, you have to be worried about people crossing the road. They can walk from behind a big car and the car not be capable of stopping in time (a human could see them walk behind the car and be alert for them coming back out, while computers at this point cannot). On the highway, though, (especially in the HOV lane) you don't have to worry about pedestrians so i think computers could be safer.
          • Maybe so. But still, 25mph (40kph) on any highway, regardless of which lane you're in, is asking for trouble.

      • by kimvette (919543)

        autopilots in aircraft work when aircraft are separated by a couple of miles, and you don't have young children (and moronic adults) running out in front of moving aircraft without looking.

        • Mod parent up! Hazards in the air are infantesimal. The only issue we have with aircraft atm (excluding equipment failure, which can just as easily happen in a car) is impact by a bird. Very few of them at a passenger jet cruising altitude, where autopilot is used.

          I could see this possibly being used on motorways (freeways), but only on long journeys. Maybe a segregated lane, expanding as support increases. Local routes and minor roads: I think not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GreatBunzinni (642500)

        Mind you, airplane autopilots only need to pay attention to other airplanes, which not only carry a transponder but also are monitored 24/7 by ground control crews, which make a damned good job at placing the airplane somewhere where it can't screw things up. Moreover, on top of all those security systems in place an airplane also carries two or three blokes who dedicate themselves monitoring all those security systems in real time.

        Back in the surface, kids don't carry transponder units, nor do other cars,

      • by VShael (62735)

        "Seriously, in an HOV lane this would be easy and a reason to buy one. You could eat breakfast, talk on your cell phone (or text), do your makeup etc. in comfort."

        And if the car in front of you suddenly veers out of control, or any other unexpected condition arises, well, at least you guys have healthcare now. Right?

        I've been on the motorway when the unexpected happens. I do not want to trust a computer to first recognise, and then react to, the unexpected. Not on a motorway.

    • by arielCo (995647)
      This reminded me of their work on a full-windshield HUD using ultraviolet lasers [slashdot.org] (say that three times). Perhaps they're betting a substantial part of the (bailed) farm on R&D. Why? Patents? Morphing into a tech company? Stay tuned!
    • by spun (1352)

      You know, I don't often do this, and perhaps some people here have gotten the impression that I don't love my country, so I just have to say, America, Fuck Yeah! [wikipedia.org]

    • by c6gunner (950153) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @10:32PM (#31606688)

      Seriously? Toyota — the guys who ate your lunch in the marketplace — can't even make a software-gas-pedal work correctly and you're trying to float an EV that navigates autonomously? Good luck with that.

      Please. How many cases of "unintended acceleration" have there been? 30? 50? Hell, let's be generous and say 500. Out of 4 million vehicles. In comparison, the US has roughly 6 MILLION accidents per year, more than 80% of which are a result of human error. More than a million people are killed world-wide in traffic accidents every year, and another FIFTY million are injured. And you're worried about an electronic failure rate of 0.01%? Talk about ass-backward priorities!

      The sooner we can replace human drivers with computers, the better off we'll be.

      • That 0.01% you pulled out of your ass like all good statistics, comes on TOP of the regular crashes.

        So a Toyota driver has a change of a regular accident + a stuck pedal. On the whole, people tend not want to add to their odds of having an accident.

        Although personally, I think the whole case smells. I find it a bit convenient that while their have been real problems in this area with several car makers, only Toyota (the car company that has been slaughtering US car makers) is constantly reported on. In th

    • by lpq (583377)

      History != Destiny.

      They may get their act together if they hire the right people.

      By the time it's designed for the road, the old foggies who botched the last one may not be around to botch this one.

      Same with the engineers.

      Nations' power and technical abilities and areas of excellence ARE NOT STAGNANT over long periods of time.

      Belief that they are is wishful or deliberately hopeful thinking at best.

      That which you get the people and the engineering to believe -- so shall they be.

      In 1957, who'd of believed we'

    • "Toyota — the guys who ate your lunch in the marketplace — can't even make a software-gas-pedal work correctly"

      Toyota — the company that's replacing the floor pans on millions of cars because a small number of drivers in a certain country are too stupid to realise thier floor mat is on top of their gas pedal.
    • I'd settle for GPS software that could find the Foodland store in Kahului on Maui.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      You guys need to stick to trying to make what people want now

      With gas prices hovering around three bucks NOW, cheap transportation is what folks want now. Plus, this is a concept car; concept cars are supposed to be what people want now but can't have, or what people are likely to want in the future.

      However, this paticular car doesn't seem practical, with only 40 km between charges (24 miles) and a top speed of 40 kph (24 mph). Drive one of these on a road with a 40 mph speed limit and you're likely to be p

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:14PM (#31605218) Homepage
    Why does it have "dynamic stabilization technology" instead of a possibly passive third wheel? Wouldn't it be simpler, cheaper to manufacture and maintain, and much thriftier in its energy use? How much additional energy is used in maintaining balance?
    • BAM! Third Wheel. [thebestpag...iverse.net]

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:23PM (#31605298) Homepage

      Why does it have "dynamic stabilization technology" instead of a possibly passive third wheel?

      Lower weight, lower rolling friction, probably a lower parts count, probably cheaper to manufacture.
       

      Wouldn't it be simpler, cheaper to manufacture and maintain, and much thriftier in its energy use?

      Maybe, maybe not.

      • Lower parts count? That may be a bogus issue because a passive third wheel would involve far cheaper parts, e.g. no gyros, compute power or software, etc. Fewer things to go wrong, easier to repair with simpler equipment.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          Even if the parts are individually cheaper, it still costs to handle and install them. So a lower parts count can really matter.

          And while there are fewer things to go wrong, a dynamic stabilization system is pretty simple as such things go and don't require any sophisticated tools to troubleshoot or repair.

        • ...but if you're putting in gyros, computing power, and software in *anyway*, then the 3rd wheel is extra :-)

        • by robot256 (1635039)

          Also having only 2 wheels reduces the footprint, makes it easier to part, and cuts chassis size and weight.

          A MEMS gyro chip is like $2 in quantity and can be added to a PCB that already has enough computing power to do that and check your email. Sounds a lot cheaper than the parts and *assembly labor* for adding a third wheel, which BTW would have to be a swivel wheel for it to actually work, and look a lot less cool--who wants to ride R2-D2 around town when it could be an upright pencil case [/sarcasm]?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      A motorcycle is half the weight, same basic length, and you can fit more of them on the road.

      Let's put the research into providing the rider all that information on fastest route.

      As batteries get lighter, electric motorcycles get more practical - http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/498/3116/Motorcycle-Article/TTXGP--Electric-Motorcycles-Race-Isle-of-Man.aspx [motorcycle-usa.com] as an example.

      Until then, tow a battery trailer, with room for groceries on top.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dalambertian (963810)
        Good point, but what I don't like about motorcycles is the lack of peripherals for protecting my squishy bits.
        • by Nerdfest (867930)
          Exactly. That's why all drivers should be required to spend their first 2 years riding a motorcycle. If you live through it you can drive a car.
      • by Rakishi (759894)

        Motorcycles are also less comfortable, have less storage capacity, provide no protection from the elements and are basically death traps. Death traps if you're an experience utterly paranoid driver whose constant assumption is that every other driver has been personally hired to kill you. More like genocide for the average driver.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by johnlcallaway (165670)
          Motorcycles are not death traps. Morons driving cars are death mobiles. As someone who as AVOIDED numerous crashes (there are no accidents...accidents are unavoidable collisions and most crashes are avoidable), my paranoia also works when I drive a car. It's called 'paying attention'. If more drivers practiced that, there would be fewer crashes for everyone.

          Problem is .. most motorcycle riders don't really learn how to ride a bike. They think they can just get on, squeeze the throttle, and take off. My
          • I've ridden bikes and driven cars. One thing that surprised me is that car drivers aren't tought "life savers." They check their blind spot when they change lane (sometimes), but not when pulling out of a junction, not when turning into a road, not when pulling back in after passing a hazard (parked vehicle etc). Every. Single. Manouver. that requires moving off from stationary should be preceded by checking the appropriate blindspot. Without exception.

            In the interest of fairness, it might make life easier
          • ...there are no accidents...

            Bad conclusion, that. I used to think that way.

            Then came the day when I was driving a big, old Lincoln down the freeway. I was in the left lane. (I normally don't sit in the left when traffic is light, but my left-side exit was coming up in about a mile.) Traffic was light and there was no one near me except for one car a bit ahead, three lanes to the right.

            Two cars racing topped the rise behind us at a high rate of speed. They split and went on either side of the car to

          • by atamido (1020905)

            Besides ... anti-lock brakes were not designed to stop a car faster .. they help the moron driver maintain control.

            This is not, strictly speaking, correct. Anti-lock brake systems were (and can still be) pretty dumb, essentially just cycling the brakes on and off. This actually works pretty well for icy situations where it emulates the pump-the-brake method of stopping, only much faster than a human.

            A more moderns system can monitor the speed of all four wheels independently, detect when a single wheel exceeds static friction, independently adjust brake pressure on all four wheels, calculate maximum effective braking

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      All those moving parts... Wouldn't it be safer, cheaper and easier to just have a horse pull it?

      • I know you're being funny and ironic, but that wouldn't be too bad an idea. In any case, if this is supposed to be a cheap, sustainable vehicle for the masses, then parts count and other manufacturing criteria are important. If it is supposed to be an idiotic toy that rich yuppies can waste their excessive income on (as, quite frankly, it appears), then your comment is on the mark. The more money you can extract from a yuppie, the better.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Why not go all the way and add two extra wheels?

      You know, like a Smart car - weighs the same, measures about the same, is also made of plastic... and is available today.

  • by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:16PM (#31605236)

    The big problem with automobiles is the problem of space. Modern American cities look like a bomb went off in their downtowns; just a few buildings surrounded by flatness for the sake of parking.

    As long as we rely on automobiles for everything, we'll still be consuming too much energy, paying too much to pave too many roads, spending too much money to buy and maintain automobiles, dying in traffic, and wasting time in traffic jams.

    Everything besides decreasing auto dependence is just a bandaid. Of course, I wouldn't expect GM to participate in this since they're the ones who killed our public transit system in the first place. [google.com]

    • "Get off my lawn!"

      I can say this because I and millions of americans live in the suburbs. We enjoy our backyards, our gardens our patios. Living in a highrise with a "balcony" is not the same when it comes to telling your kids "go outside and play" which btw should not involve taking an elevator down 20 floors and crossing a major street to get to a park. You can't exactly open up the window on your 20th floor highrise and yell out to the kids to "come in for dinner", nor can you keep an eye on them.

      • In my ideal socialist utopia, there would be a collective garden or backyard nearby (a park)

        • In the ideal socialist utopia, you wouldn't be allowed to raise your own kids. Parenting is too important to be left to parents. They'd go to an indoctrination camp with a built-in park.

          • In the ideal socialist utopia, you wouldn't be allowed to raise your own kids. Parenting is too important to be left to parents. They'd go to an indoctrination camp with a built-in park.

            That's not at all true; that's against accepted psychological knowledge. I don't excuse the tragedies caused by people like Stalin, but dystopias appear in the real world under every economic system.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        If you designed your cities properly the typical "high rise" residential buildings would be perhaps 5 stories, surrounded by a small communal grassed area, with a children's play area (with swings etc) or larger park for every few buildings. There would be foot paths connecting them together on one side, and vehicle/foot access on the other side, and that would have a very low speed limit (20-30km/h).

        Your kids would probably prefer to play in the communal area with other children rather than alone in a priv

    • What the hell are you talking about?! Downtown is expensive. In fact, you will often find parking garages because the land is so expensive. Obviously your definition of what "Downtown" is differs from mine.

    • You're missing the application of this technology: car-trains and public transportation.

      Think: you no longer need to wait for a bus when you want to go somewhere. You take out your cell-phone and tell the car-train network the number of people you need to be able to carry, and the network sends a self-driving car to the nearest parking space to your location. You get in and specify where you want it to go. The AI drives you there, using swarm-intelligence techniques for safety. You relax in comfort, and

  • if you are trying to move into my lane, i want my car to be able to send a signal to your car to not allow that to happen. i fully understand the implications and trust our justice system to prosecute rogue signal transmitters. many cars already implement rev limiters, so the only issue is trusting the signal.
  • C'mon... I'm not the only one that thought it.

  • For me, the kicker is the last paragraph. The likely use is to replace bikes and pedestrians in the Third World, not cars in America.

  • This ain't serious, people.
    Yet again, they're aiming at inner-city-dwellers who earn more, pay for more expensive accomodation, need to commute smaller distances and are sometimes willing to pay a premium (most of whom use a prius, Merc SMART, bicycle or motorcycle anyway). Hell, segways will pro'lly outsell this.

    This product further violates an agreement the general public have with their car - simply put, if you want mass adoption, your car needs to be a car. It needs to be a 5-seater you can pack your fr

  • by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:48PM (#31605510) Homepage
    To be honest I'd rather ride a freaking bicycle than this boring enclosed driverless segway. Future tech used to be cool, fast and just plain kick ass. But now its just suck ass, partly due to the whole global warming doomsday environmentalist 'green' 'anything you do is a sin' mentality & paranoid obsession with safety that has been going around.

    There should be less of this type of slow driverless segway and more Tesla Roadster, Wrightspeed X1 or even a practical 4 seater without worthless gimmicks like integrated twitter and facebook. There is no reason at all why electric cars should be slow, ugly and boring or even as impractical as this thing is. Basically where is my flying car and get off my lawn.
    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @09:56PM (#31606494) Homepage

      To be honest I'd rather ride a freaking bicycle than this boring enclosed driverless segway.

      As would I, but this is perfect for when the weather does not accommodate bike riding.

      Future tech used to be cool, fast and just plain kick ass.

      Popular Mechanics sensationalist predictions that never come true are kick ass and exciting. This is reality, and I think it's pretty exciting.

      But now its just suck ass, partly due to the whole global warming doomsday environmentalist 'green' 'anything you do is a sin' mentality & paranoid obsession with safety that has been going around.

      The fact that this is not a rocket car is due to environmental change? I'm not seeing the logic there.

      There should be less of this type of slow driverless segway and more Tesla Roadster, Wrightspeed X1 or even a practical 4 seater without worthless gimmicks like integrated twitter and facebook.

      Because those things costs more than the gross domestic product of most small towns around the world. This is a possible design for real people to use, not millionaires.

      There is no reason at all why electric cars should be slow, ugly and boring or even as impractical as this thing is.

      It's very practical for people trying to get to work, or to the train station, or the local shops. It's not practical for hyper speed travel across country. It's not meant for that.

      Basically where is my flying car and get off my lawn.

      Your flying car is still not practical. Please go get an engineering degree and help design it if that is what you want. Until then, I'll be happily zipping around waving "ciao." And I don't have a lawn. What a stupid waste of land. Plant some trees already.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Your flying car is still not practical. Please go get an engineering degree and help design it if that is what you want.

        Moller almost sells what I want. They have been 10 years away from production since the 1960s. Though they claim "4 years away" now, so at that rate, sometime in 2200 we'll have one. For $80,000, that's what I'd commute in.
  • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:55PM (#31605582)

    I don't think this will sell well as most cars and trucks because it's so small. It's like a Prius, small and 'cutesy'. Thing is most people when they buy a vehicle want big, bold/macho, not small and tiny. This is why so many people own trucks, not because they have a need to use it to load things from point a to point b, it's because they want it to be big and send a type of message.

    People want their 'must-always-have-with-me' electronics small, but something that isn't meant for your pocket is wanted more as bigger is better.

    • People in the US. Not everyone in the world is like that, and TFA refers to that:

      Borroni-Bird acknowledges that the EN-V will be a tougher sell in U.S. cities, where a significant portion of people have grown accustomed to traversing the streets fully enclosed in weatherproof cars, trucks and buses. More likely, the EN-V will appeal more in places such as Mumbai and Shanghai, where urbanites are more used to walking and biking around their cities. "This vehicle wouldn't be as much of an outlier in other cou

    • by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @08:37PM (#31605890)

      I don't think this will sell well as most cars and trucks because it's so small. It's like a Prius, small and 'cutesy'.

      A prius isn't that small. It's about 'average' sized when compared against a mini, a smart, or even some of the smaller fords and chevys.

      Thing is most people when they buy a vehicle want big, bold/macho, not small and tiny. This is why so many people own trucks, not because they have a need to use it to load things from point a to point b, it's because they want it to be big and send a type of message.

      People want big vehicles because a whole heck of a lot of Americans live in suburbs or quasi suburbs, where its 5+ miles to the nearest supermarket and the population density is not sufficient to justify a direct bus route from here to there. So even if you are within walking distance to mass transit in these areas, it's a one hour trip vs a 10 minute trip, without having to wait for the bus to come, and without having to crowd on to said bus with enough food to feed a typical family of 2 adults + 2.3 children for a week, and without having to deal with bad weather.

      That's a sufficiently drastic difference in quality of life for many people to object to. To put it politely.

      As for why trucks/SUVs: Well, until the end of the 1980's you could go out and buy a big station wagon that gave you all the cargo space you could ever want to go grocery shopping for the wife and 2.3 kids, haul plywood and sheetrock for your remodeling/renovation project, and pack the wife and ceil(2.3) kids in comfortably for a road trip, all while getting about 20-25 mpg highway.

      Then the first CAFE standards were passed (to stop global warming/reduce dependence on foreign oil, whatever got Al Gore off at the time), and station wagons were no longer profitable to manufacture, what with the huge ass federal tax on them. Trucks, OTOH, weren't covered by CAFE, and people still needed cargo space, so the SUV was invented, and now you get people driving vehicles that are 'bigger' (read: taller), get worse milage than the station wagons did, and don't really have any bigger cargo space. Some are actually shorter and narrower than the station wagons were, and the extra height is taken up by the suspension, so you actually get less cargo space.

      So the answer is, as always, blame your congressman.

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        All the auto manufacturers needed to do was put the engines they sold in Europe into their American station wagons, and boom - instant mpg benefit. Instead the culture of the SUV arose.

        You can't blame the death of the estate car on global warming - there were numerous ways to solve the CAFE issues. The auto industry of course took the path of least resistance "trucks are immune!" - the real blame is the loophole left in there that allowed them to build cheap, unsafe, uneconomical SUVs instead of actually re

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Joce640k (829181)

        That still doesn't require a BIG vehicle.

        When I read about Americans upgrading from minivans because precious little snowflake hasn't got enough legroom for the school run I just want to bash my forehead on the desk. And I've read it. Many times.

        The other head-basher is when I read macho types saying they need a bigger truck for the daily commute because they have to tow something or other once a year.

        And yes, it's a USA thing.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        PS: Yes, I agree. Tax-exemptions for SUVs is bad/stupid. Epically so.

    • Small is relative. Here in Europe the Prius is a fairly average-sized car. Not cutsey to my eyes (fugly in fact), but that's subjective. I think you're right about 'truck' owners, I imagine most people that buy trucks in the States do so for the same reason that people here buy Chelsea tractors.

      What's worrying to me is the ever more common sight of a Dodge or suchlike in my city centre. Now, this isn't going to go down well, but I've yet to see an American car that I found aesthetically pleasing. Again this

  • ...when I look at something like this is why does it has to look so ugly and off balance?

    The second is how do I fight my way to work and back in wind and rain and snow? On streets with bone-breaking potholes only a Jeep Cherokee could love.

     

  • needs to be at autopilot software standards and not rush past QA xbox360 standards.

  • Snow? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Toshito (452851)

    I would love to see this car in the snow... or trying to balance itself on ice...

    And getting 40km of autonomy at -30C, with the heater on.

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