GM chose the bustling metropolis of Shanghai to unveil the trio of EN-V concepts. Based on the research conducted with Segway and the Segway P.U.M.A. prototype, the GM EN-V is a two-wheeled, two-seat commuter vehicle with an electric drivetrain.
By 2030 it is predicted that urban areas will become home to over 60 percent of the world's 8 billion people. This means there will be an extraordinary strain on the transport infrastructure in built up areas, and pollution could also become an even bigger problem for major cities. The EN-V is not the answer to these upcoming problems, however it is a novel idea which could help reduce the stresses on future urban environments.
The EN-V, which is short for Electric Networked-Vehicle, was displayed in three different forms at its unveiling. GM say that the three variations are intended to emphasize three key characteristics of future transport: Jiao (Pride), Miao (Magic) and Xiao (Laugh). Okay then, glad that's cleared up.
Each EN-V has a unique design theme to showcase the flexibility of the propulsion platform. The design gives each EN-V its own personality, with a unique opening, elegant interior and innovative color, lighting and seat technology. Xiao offers a more lighthearted appeal, with its "gumball blue" paint and nautical-inspired design. Miao takes most of its design cues from the consumer electronics industry, as evidenced by its sleek, masculine looks. Designers also used Miao to display innovative lighting solutions, including extensive use of LED accent lighting. With its clean lines and bright paintwork, Jiao takes its design influence from bullet trains and Chinese opera masks.
"EN-V reinvents the automobile by creating a new vehicle DNA through the convergence of electrification and connectivity. It provides an ideal solution for urban mobility that enables future driving to be free from petroleum and emissions, free from congestion and accidents, and more fun and fashionable than ever before," said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group.
The GM EN-V is powered by two electric motors, one for each powered wheel. A constantly adjusting stabilization system allows the EN-V to carry two passengers and light cargo in a footprint that's about a third of a traditional 4-wheeled vehicle.
Due to the tandem two-wheel layout the vehicle can literally "turn on a dime" - at low speeds anyway. In addition, everything in EN-V is drive-by-wire, allowing it to operate autonomously - using GPS and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or under manual control from the driver. The motors not only provide power for acceleration, but also bring the vehicle to a halt.
Power for the motors is provided by lithium-ion batteries that produce zero emissions. Recharging can occur from a conventional wall outlet using standard household power, allowing EN-V to travel at least 40 kilometers on a single charge. EN-V can also improve the efficiency of the public electric infrastructure since the vehicle can communicate with the electric grid to determine the best time to recharge based on overall usage.
The autonomous capability of the EN-V would help reduce traffic congestion by allowing vehicle to automatically select the fastest route based on real-time traffic information. The concept also uses wireless communications to enable a "social network" that can be used by drivers and occupants to communicate with friends or business associates while on the go.
The ability of the EN-V to communicate with other vehicles, the transport infrastructure and sense its surroundings could dramatically reduce the number of vehicle accidents. Using vehicle-based sensor and camera systems, EN-V can build up an image of 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, it will decelerate to a slower and safer speed and stop sooner than current vehicles.