In this uncertain and perilous economy we live, companies grab on to any glimmering ray of hope, no matter how dim. Companies are pushed to the brink, gearing up to an unprecedented creative overdrive. Just look at General Motors and Segway. With GM trembling on the brink of bankruptcy, having already grabbed $13 billion in their government bailout, and now faced with the challenge of producing substantial results – people want to buy their cars – in about 50 days to the Feds or die trying.
GM has reinvented themselves in warp speed, entering into a new partnership with Segway to produce a new 300-pound urban assault car– a vehicle not showing the characteristic smiling metal or plastic grille. It’s General Motors’ latest effort to lend its expertise in car manufacturing and exterior design and recast itself, hopefully, as a viable, environmentally friendly automaker.
The zero emissions, green power electric prototype vehicle was demonstrated in New York on April 7. The joint GM and Segway project, coined “Project P.U.M.A.” (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), consists of a lithium-ion battery powered two-seater that is canopied in a roll cage and has two wheels. Having a top speed of 35 m.p.h., the PUMA can travel up to 35 miles between recharges. About half the length of a Smart car, it basically consists of two Segway PTs (Personal Transporters) joined in a chassis with a transparent shield covering the top and front, and an electric drive and batteries from GM.
But that’s not the half of it. Despite not having airbags, the vehicle has other lifesaving and stress reduction advantages. The cars sport automatic vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems — they can drive and park themselves, automatically detecting other moving vehicles and people in their path, while continuously synchronizing with each other to ease the flow of traffic. The OnStar wireless communication system will enable people to communicate and locate each other in a city.
What does this have to do with Las Vegas? We should join in on the GM partnership, of course. Squash those sugarplum fairy ideas of building a Las Vegas mob shrine or building that new Taj Mahal city hall. Think American; invest in GM. Help turn their dream into a reality.
For GM and Las Vegas leaders, the challenge and incentive is now to show the government and the public that they’re capable of forward thinking when it comes to implementing programs that save people money, relieve city congestion and curb our urban driving rage syndrome.
The City of Las Vegas should take part of the pent up budgeted money and use it to promote the new idea and commercialization of it all by building the requisite city electric-powered infrastructure. Since many Las Vegas homes don’t have garages to house and charge electric vehicles, develop electric-charged depots that are conveniently dispersed throughout the city.
Further, facing a heated Las Vegas unemployment rate over 10 percent, twice as much as a year ago, the city should part with their budgeted money to hire pick-wielding laborers to expand Las Vegas’ deplorable bike lane network. That way the environmentally friendly PUMAS won’t be pounced on by competing gas guzzlers as they rapidly fade into dinosaur la-la land.
Though GM says it would cost only 25 to 30 percent as much to own and operate PUMA as a conventional car, our city could be at least socially gracious enough to self-fund their own economic stimulus bailout program, so Las Vegas down and out people faced with ever shrinking incomes could purchase a PUMA to call their own.
The thought of having no more driving stress is surreal. Not whiling away time in endless traffic jams that have become a continuous part of Las Vegas life? Can it happen?
And imagine all the positive Las Vegas nightlife by-products: Pimp a PUMA and safely drive AND drink all night long on the Strip. Gone are all those drunken driving cases that clog our already taxed court system. Drivers just program in their entire fave peep list and automatically travel incognito throughout the evening- safely, without texting and tweeting.
Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan would no doubt be in her tenth heaven.
Just pray the automatic pilot doesn’t fail.