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GM, Segway Partner On Urban Mobility Vehicle

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GM, Segway Partner On Urban Mobility Vehicle

Technology

GM, Segway Partner On Urban Mobility Vehicle

GM, Segway Partner On Urban Mobility Vehicle

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/102851854/102851800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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An electric two-seat prototype vehicle developed by General Motors and Segway is shown in New York City. The collaboration, dubbed Project PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), combines several technologies that tout zero emissions, enhanced safety and reduced congestion in cities. Emile Wamsteker/General Motors via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Emile Wamsteker/General Motors via Getty Images

An electric two-seat prototype vehicle developed by General Motors and Segway is shown in New York City. The collaboration, dubbed Project PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), combines several technologies that tout zero emissions, enhanced safety and reduced congestion in cities.

Emile Wamsteker/General Motors via Getty Images

General Motors and Segway unveiled a prototype two-wheeled electric vehicle that can seat two people. The Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or PUMA, project is designed to be an alternative to cars and trucks in cities across the world.

Critics have their doubts.

The tech-review Web site Engadget calls it "a rickshaw without all the charm." Another blog, Business Insider, dubs it "a hideous two-wheeled egg."

That's some of the milder criticism of the new prototype vehicle unveiled Tuesday. Designed for urban travel, the PUMA is more or less a sit-down Segway for two. It balances on its two wheels, operates on electric motors and can travel up to 35 mph.

GM says it could begin producing PUMAs in 2012. It won't comment on price, saying only that it might cost about one-third of what it takes to own and operate a traditional vehicle.

But, as its already-plentiful critics point out, the PUMA may make even less sense than the Segway, which never lived up to its hype. They say the PUMA doesn't appear to be safe enough to drive on streets, and is too big and fast for sidewalks.

GM counters that it hopes cities will set special lanes for mini-transporters like the PUMA. And it says innovative sensor technology will help prevent collisions with other vehicles, and with pedestrians.

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