GM's EN-V concept: mini city cars for reducing traffic, emissions

General Motors unveiled on Wednesday a tiny electric vehicle prototype that could reduce urban automotive emissions and traffic congestion.

General Motors unveiled on Wednesday a tiny electric vehicle prototype that could reduce urban automotive emissions and traffic congestion.

One third the size of a typical car, the Electric Networked Vehicle, or EN-V, is a two-seater that GM believes can address the challenges faced by the world's growing urban population.

By 2030, more than 60 percent of the world's population will be living in urban areas. To address that, GM announced the EN-V in partnership with Shanghau Automotive Industry Corp. at the World Expo 2010.

At just 1.5 meters long -- that's just under five feet -- and 1,100 lbs. in curb weight, the EN-V might just fit on your dining room table.

The car tops out at about 25 miles per hour an has a body made of carbon fiber, specialized plastics and acrylic, for lightness and durability.

The vehicle uses dynamic stabilization technology, much like a Segway scooter, to keep its balance. Interestingly, it can be operated manually or autonomously, using high-speed wireless connectivity and GPS navigation to automatically select the fastest route based on real-time traffic conditions.

It uses lithium-ion batteries that can last up to just 25 miles before a recharge -- perfect for inner-city commutes but unacceptable for a weekend jaunt. It can be plugged into a standard wall outlet for recharging.

GM unveiled three EN-V models that "represent three different characteristics that emphasize the enjoyable nature" of future transportation: Jiao (Pride), Miao (Magic) and Xiao (Laugh).

Before you get too excited, the EN-V is very much only a concept. But the idea of a a smart, sensor-laden urban vehicle that's "just enough car" for such an environment -- New York City comes to mind -- is tantalizing.

[via Scientific American]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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