Struggling General Motors Corp. is teaming with Segway, the scooter company, in a bid to answer consumers' green transportation needs by developing a battery-powered vehicle that cuts through urban congestion and emits less pollution.
The companies unveiled on Tuesday a prototype of their PUMA (personal urban mobility and accessibility) vehicle, will run on batteries and use wireless technology to avoid traffic backups and navigate through cities.
"There's no technology that has to be invented here. It's really just putting the pieces together," says Chris Borroni-Bird, director of the project for GM.
Nonetheless it could take years to get to market. "It's not going on sale anytime" soon, he said. GM said it aims to develop it by 2012.
Segway is the maker of the Segway Personal Transporter which Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak is famously known for using.
PUMA is different from its predecessor -- the Personal Transporter, or PT -- as it accommodates two riders and lets them sit in seats similar to those in an automobile.
The new vehicle can travel at the speeds of 25 to 35 mph and can drive between 25 miles and 35 miles on a single charge, Segway said.
PUMA uses lithium-ion batteries and should only cost about 60 cents in electric costs each time it is charged, the company added.
"It's great to see advanced technology applied to one of our most basic needs -- the need to get from here to there," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc.
"While this particular product may or may not actually hit the market, it is a demonstration platform for a number of new technologies, from advanced batteries to drive-by-wire."
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