The EN-V concept car takes a spin in Shanghai.
The EN-V concept car takes a spin in Shanghai.

Meet GM's 'driverless' bubble car

By Rob Golding and Tom McGhie Time of article published Jul 11, 2011

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Britain is set to be the European manufacturing centre for General Motors’ first programmable car because of its expertise in high-tech cars, according to senior GM execs.

The EN-V Pride, which is designed for use in closed environments, such as an Olympic village, can also be driven manually on the open road. The Mail on Sunday test drove the car at GM’s closely guarded Millbrook test centre in Bedfordshire last week.

The two-wheel bubble car is balanced by gyroscopes in the same way as the Segway electric scooter. It can be driven from either of the two seats by switching the controls.

Alternatively, it can run with no driver - nor even an occupant.

“You can load up two children, the mother-in-law or the shopping, select a destination and send it on its way,” said Thomas Brown, who is build and test supervisor at GM’s Michigan Technical Centre.

The EN-V is being built in quantity in the US for evaluation there, but when full-scale building starts for global markets, Britain is the natural first choice for European manufacture.

“The UK is the centre of the Formula 1 industry. It is expert in high-technology precision engineering and lightweight carbon fibre which is what we need,” said Brown.

At present the car can travel up to 40km at 40km/h but a second-generation car is on the way with a speed and range that are double that.

China is building a car-free town near Shanghai that will have all the infrastructure needed to accommodate EN-V cars, which talk to each other to avoid collision.

The EN-V Pride is expected to be a fifth of the cost of a conventional car to buy and run. -Mail on Sunday

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