GM designed the EN-V, which had its North American debut last week at CES, to fill the niche of short-range urban transport, where roads are tighter and parking space is limited, but driving distances are shorter than rural or suburban trips. It’s about half the length of a Smart car and weighs only 900 lbs. Each model – Miao, Jiao, and Xiao – has its own unique style and color, but they all have two-seat cabins fitted onto a two-wheel base, co-designed by Segway. The base provides extreme mobility and allows the car to do cool things, like turn in place.
It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, and it uses gyroscopic sensors to balance the car’s weight and detect the direction and angle of tilt. The sensors can also independently rotate the wheels forward or backward as needed for balance and propulsion. Don’t worry – test drivers have said that when you’re driving, you can’t feel any tilting or wheel movement.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the EN-V is its communication system. It uses sonar to detect pedestrians, other cars, and cyclists, and a slew of other gadgets – cameras, GPS, car-to-car communication – combined with the sonar allow the car to drive all by itself. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about searching for a parking space ever again. With a smartphone, you could simply program your EN-V to park itself and return to you when you need it.
Unfortunately, we won’t see the EN-V on the road for quite some time. GM says it’ll be another 20 or 30 years before consumers really need this type of car, but we’re glad to see they’re thinking ahead.