General Motors and scooter maker Segway announced Tuesday they were working together to build a new two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle for city use. Dubbed Puma (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), the vehicle would be powered by lithium-ion batteries and feature a wireless communications network allowing users to avoid traffic and prevent crashes, the companies said.
The prototype is designed to reach speeds of up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour and travel up to 35 miles between recharges. But the groups did not say when the two-wheeler would hit the roads or how much it would cost.
"Imagine small, nimble electric vehicles that know where other moving objects are and avoid running into them," said GM vice president of research and development Larry Burns. "Now, connect those vehicles in an Internet-like web and you can greatly enhance the ability of people to move through cities, find places to park and connect to their social and business networks."
Segway president and CEO Jim Norrod said the project would "demonstrate a dramatically different approach to urban mobility."
Embattled GM, which has already received $13.4 billion in federal bailout funds, is under pressure from the government to develop more environmentally conscious technology less dependent on oil.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009