GM Unveils New “Envy” and “Pride” Models, “Lust” and “Sloth” to Come

I’ve railed on General Motors and Segway in the past for the myriad impracticalities of their tandem Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype. Now they’re at it again, making headlines today by unveiling the first three models in their new Electric Networked Vehicle (EN-V, pronounced "envy") line, including the Jiao, which is Chinese for "Pride."

Someone please tell their marketing department to come up
with a new name for the next iteration of this concept vehicle. Seriously, pinning the hopes for resuscitating the image of your flailing car company on the deadly sins? If I may, here’s a suggestion for the hybrid-electric Suburban you may or may not be considering in the future: The Chevy "Glut-ton-E."

The product launch comes complete with dubious claims about the vehicles. They don’t pollute! They’re small enough to get through traffic!

But until we get electricity production to be non-polluting, these vehicles will effectively still have tailpipes, albeit much further from your city, where you don’t have to worry so much about those unregulated coal ash sumps giving someone else cancer. And how exactly will they bypass traffic — bike lanes?

Snide commentary aside, I think GM is missing a link in the evolution of mobility. How do these things fill a need? They take all the convenience of cars, reduce carrying capacity, and limit the maximum speed to 25 mph. Of course, I’m not arguing that slower speeds in cities are bad, I just don’t understand who’s supposed to be the target market. Someone help me out. Do these products have a practical function?

And I’ll come back to my own bias and state the obvious: Cities already have personal urban mobility devices that don’t pollute.

  • “Glut-ton-E” – NICE!

  • Nick

    Hopefully one day we’ll make it to be old geezers still rolling around and complaining about these new fangled contraptions taking up space in the bike lane.

  • “G.M. said the car would work well in large metro areas, where half of all trips are three miles or less and 28 percent are one mile or less.”

    Oh, so you mean walking distance?

  • Take a look at the California Drivers Guide 2010. This year adds a new section for NEV (neighborhood electric vehicles)….exactly what GM is launching. In California, they are legal on all streets with speeds of 35mph or less and legal on faster roads that have NEV lanes (ie, slightly wider bike lanes)

    Basically, think golf carts, but shinier.

  • a

    I always wonder about companies that decide to name a product with a single Chinese syllable, as nearly every single one can have a dazzling array of meanings. For example, “jiao” pronounced with a high unchanging pitch (first tone) and no other context could mean:
    to deliver
    to teach
    to glue
    to irrigate
    chili pepper
    suburbs
    reef
    banana
    cunning
    pampered
    scorched

    Furthermore…the character they’re going for has more of a connotation of arrogance or haughtiness than the word “pride” does in English.

  • Hey, this would be the most eco-friendly vehicle GM has ever made. I mean, I wouldn’t buy one (or any GM stock, ever), but I don’t think that’s an argument against it. Somebody will probably buy this, unless it’s ridiculously expensive.

    I dunno. Why hate on this when there are so many better vehicles to hate on? This isn’t going to kill anyone on a bicycle and it could at some point be powered by renewable energy.

    That’s what we call a step in the right direction, considering where GM is today.

  • This vehicle just furthers the line of thought that we’ll “technology” our way past peak oil. Why isn’t GM working on building street cars? Why must we continue thinking that private autos are going to be around forever?

    Yes, there are worse cars to hate on, but this is suppose to be our future. I don’t want a future of mini pods driving all over the city. They still need to be powered by something other then human energy and they will need storage at both ends of the trip and still allow for the continued sprawl type development (though not as bad as a regular car).

  • Personally I think private vehicles are going to be around forever. I really can’t imagine rural people going back to horses, and I can’t imagine places like NYC without cabs, not to mention delivery trucks.

    Of course, we own way too many cars in America and drive them way too much.

    I’m just picturing the environmentally conscious elderly lady who would really walk to the store if she could, but her legs just aren’t what they used to be and even walking to the bus is too much and so she takes this crazy thing 🙂

  • I agree Chewie, I probably came off a bit heavy. Cars will be around for a long time, but I think this isn’t being built for granny. This is being built for the lazy mid-management 30something that doesn’t want to walk to the gym or ride the bus cause it smells.

  • davidagalvan

    This will revolutionize transportation!

    Just like the Segway did!

    I mean, can anyone even remember what life was like before the Segway was around?

  • Who would have thought that folks in San Francisco (which we all know is godless) would object to anything on religious grounds? Also, I thought that there was only one deadly sin in SF: being from SoCal.

    But yeah, I pretty much agree with this assessment, heathen though I may be.

  • ZA

    As I seem to recall, “Lust” used to be spelled MUNI, usually on a 14, or a 48, in the back, and when you least expect it.

  • This seems like a great tool for the disabled. Everybody else? Meh. . .

  • Brent

    These gizmos are easy to mock, but I’d rather share the road with them than an Escalade any day. Bring ’em on!

  • From the Forbes article: “…EN-V’s smaller size and greater maneuverability mean a parking lot can accommodate five times as many EN-Vs as typical automobiles…”

    The better sentence (thinking) would be “…EN-V’s smaller size and greater maneuverability mean a parking lot can use five times less space than one for typical automobiles…”

    Rendered further to be about carshare (and incorporating a design based on the low-end of Zipcar’s estimate of one carshare automobile taking 15 private cars off the road): “…EN-V’s smaller size and greater maneuverability mean a parking lot for shared EN-V’s can use 75 times less space than one for typical private automobiles…”

  • patrick

    excellent point Todd!

  • patrick

    You know, as I look at the images, it kind of reminds me of the chairs the humans float around in in Wall-E…

  • Patrick,
    Exactly! Did you see the link in the post to my last diatribe about these?
    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/04/07/gm-and-segway-unveil-la-z-boy-on-wheels/

  • “I can’t imagine places like NYC without cabs, not to mention delivery trucks.”

    From what I can see, these vehicles could not be used as cabs or delivery trucks: they just have a front seat for one or two people, no room for passengers in the back or for carrying loads. It would probably even be hard to fit a large load of groceries into this.

    They are purely for personal mobility of people who want to use their own motor vehicles rather than walking, bicycling, or taking transit.

    Typically, I think a family would have one of these to drive to the local Starbucks for a cup of coffee and have an SUV to drive to the grocery store and on longer trips.

  • tea

    “Personally I think private vehicles are going to be around forever.”

    Spoken like a true Roman.

  • Regarding motor vehicles for individuals or very small groups, there are currently more than enough worldwide for everyone to share.

    The three main technical issues are local emissions, vulnerable road-user protection and availability of owned, local-energy, and these are relatively hard to solve with the current fleet.

    So, if these new vehicles are at the top of the food chain – or the elite service – in a truly sustainable short- to medium-term urban mobility plan, power them only with local energy, price accordingly and establish a maximum use rule for individuals, and collectively. The existing old-skool automobile fleet can be used for shared journeys which are less sustainable by large-vehicle enabled collective public transport.

  • Vehicle rental/sharing is where we will get the most public benefits. Conversely, we get few benefits over a long horizon from gradual changes in the propulsion of privately owned vehicles, whether they are electric or gas powered.

    Vehicle rental should be under public management the same way that a bus system is public. With GPS, Time-Distance-Place would determine the rental fee that would be designed to achieve the greatest public benefit in the manner similar to selecting public bus routes and schedules.

    The main public benefits are convenient parking — first in, first out lots, and reserved curb space — since up to six vehicles can fit into the space required by one normal sized vehicle. 

    There are only about five cities in the US where this idea is applicable. The concept broadly is that people will drive a small vehicle from home to a hub,  use hi-speed mass transit to go to another hub, and lastly, rent another small vehicle to go to a final destination. In NYC, Manhattan is so dense that the second set of vehicles is unnecessary, although rental in Manhattan would be an economical substitute for a taxi.

    See MIT web site for a better example: http://cities.media.mit.edu/projects/citycar.html

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