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

GM_EN_V.jpgImage: New York Times [1].

I've railed on General Motors and Segway in the past for the myriad impracticalities [2] of their tandem Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype. Now they're at it again, making headlines today [3] 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 [4]? 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 [5] 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 [6] that don't pollute.