The miniaturization process seems to ubiquitous. When it comes to automobile industry, miniaturization seems to be the norm. Nano has shared the newspaper pages almost every day in the last one year. The need to go small seems to be more than just a style statement. The need to switch to an alternative source of fuel, the need for affordability and the need for mobility seems to be the dominating reasons for the move towards smaller vehicles.
When we talk about the need for alternative source of fuel, the important factor is that most of the alternative fuels available right now are not powerful enough to generate enough speed and power for the bigger vehicles. Smaller vehicles seem to be a right match for this kind of fuels.
After Nano, now even US biggies like General Motors are coming up with innovative smaller vehicles. GM in association with Segway, a company based in New Hampshire is going to come up with a two wheeler pod vehicle. Segway developed a self-balancing, two-wheeled urban transporter that can carry one person at a speed of 19 km per hour. But it was not a success. However this newer concept seems to be more feasible and the probability of the success seems to be higher.
So in future if you hear someone calling for an auto in Madison Square Garden, don’t get surprised. It can very well be the pod vehicle which is being launched by GM & Segway. And finally the humble auto rickshaw would be plying the US roads.
The new rickshaw goes by the brand name of PUMA, which stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility. It is a small, enclosed, two-wheeled electric vehicle that can carry two persons and hit a top speed of 56 km per hour.
Now some key points about PUMA:
- Puma uses sophisticated technology
- It can balance itself on two-wheels
- It has Global Positioning System
- It has sensors and
- It has wireless connectivity
- It runs on a lithium ion battery
- It has a driving range of 56 km on a single charge
- It uses digital control and can self drive for some distance
- The PUMA mobility pod (like an onboard computer) can allow the vehicles to communicate with each other, regulate the flow of traffic and even prevent crashes from happening.
GM intends to provide a new and unique way to move about in town. The car is scheduled to be showcased in the New York Auto Show third week of April. The commercial version of the vehicle would be launched later. So, after the launch of Nano which raised quite a lot of eyebrows now it seems to be time for another surprise awaiting the general public. So it is time when people would have a new funky way to move around town. The two-wheeler vehicle is a cool idea, but there are doubts about the looks of the new baby in town. It might appear to be funny. The idea seems to be good, but it is yet remains to be seen whether the concept works and it is able to dispel the doubts regarding traffic congestion, performance and also affordability as GM has not yet declared the price for the pod vehicle.
It also needs to be seen whether the vehicle hits the Indian roads. It would be a nice scene and also a challenge that other automobile companies need to stand up to. But all depends of the actual performance on road and not only the promises that it floats.