Today, General Motors revealed three new futuristic-looking Electric Networked-Vehicles (EN-V) in Shanghai. With an almost Jetson-like feel, these three concept vehicles will be on display at World Expo 2010. Each of the three models is a two-seat electric vehicle that addresses a variety of automotive concerns: traffic congestion, parking, air quality and affordability.The three concept cars have inspirational names-Jiao (Pride), Miao (Magic) and Xiao (Laugh). General Motors has chosen these names as characteristics that represent urban transportation of the future.If you see something Segway-like when you look at the images of these vehicles, you're on to something. General Motors and Segway worked together to create the drivetrain platform used in the EN-Vs. The drive train is based on Segway's Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype.A lithium-ion battery powers each wheel of this two-seat, two-wheeled vehicle. The vehicle has an estimated range of 40 kilometer per charge, and it can be recharged from any conventional wall outlet. Each vehicle weighs less than 500 kilograms and is about one-third the length and one-sixth the overall size of a traditional passenger vehicle. Its compact size means a traditional parking space can accommodate about five EN-Vs. Although this vehicle is compact, it still seats two adults and even has a small cargo area.In addition to the unique drivetrain used to power the EN-V, the vehicle will also use GPS, a vehicle-to-vehicle communication system, and distance-sensing technology to facilitate autonomous operation. That's right, the EN-V can almost drive itself.
"The ability to communicate with other vehicles and with the infrastructure could dramatically reduce the number of vehicle accidents. Using vehicle-based sensor and camera systems, EN-V can 'sense' what's around it, allowing the vehicle to react quickly to obstacles or changes in driving conditions. For example, if a pedestrian steps out in front of the vehicle, EN-V will decelerate to a slower and safer speed and stop sooner than today's vehicles."This vehicle is designed specifically for use in urban areas. The world's population is shifting from rural to urban, and experts estimate that about 60 percent of the world's population will live in an urban area by 2030. In large urban areas, an estimated 30 percent of fuel is wasted as drivers search for a parking spot. Smaller vehicles alleviate this waste as more EN-Vs can fit into one parking spot.Although the EN-V is merely a concept, General Motors estimates that these personal mobility vehicles will cost between one-fifth and one-sixth the price of a traditional passenger vehicle. Additionally, operating costs are expected to be one-third to one-fourth the cost of conventional vehicles.If you're interested in seeing the EN-V up close, stop by the SAIC-GM Pavilion at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2010.Melissa Hincha-Ownby blogs for the Mother Nature Network.More from Mother Nature Network: