Any hope that billions of bailout dollars would spur General Motors to produce a viable or useful product were shattered this morning in Manhattan. The auto-making failure joined with Segway to debut Project P.U.M.A., short for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility. The two-wheeled, two-seat electric wheelchair promises to move urbanites â€œmore quickly, safely, quietly and cleanly, and at a lower total cost,â€ but without any point of reference, itâ€™s as shallow as the next claim that Project P.U.M.A. â€œenables design creativity, fashion, fun and social networking.”
Not to mention Dean Kamenâ€™s declaration that Segway would â€œbe to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.â€
The Project P.U.M.A. prototype runs on lithium ion batteries, reaches 35 miles per hour, travels up to 35 miles between charges and includes GMâ€™s OnStar system, which enables communication between similarly equipped vehicles to help avoid collisions. Some day GM hopes the technology will enable cars to drive themselves without crashing into each other, just running down everything and everyone else thatâ€™s not equipped with a navigation system.
However, itâ€™s highly unlikely that GM and Segwayâ€™s latest folly will ever roam the streets. The P.U.M.A. isnâ€™t designed to be used amidst other motor vehicles, only in bicycle lanes where it would be its motorized speed would not only be illegal, but dangerous for non-motorized two-wheelers. If that’s not enough, the more than five thousand dollar price tag will probably drive Project P.U.M.A. to extinction.