It's an ambitious concept, even if right now it's only words: Creating a "new automobile DNA."
That phrase comes from General Motors' new "Blue Paper," which outlines its vision for "sustainable urban mobility." The 32-page document is based on ideas GM collected from a series of forums held at Shanghai's Expo 2010 earlier this year. While cynics might brand it as an insidious ploy to promote demand for the new Chevrolet Volt, it deserves some consideration from automotive enthusiasts. For sure, this agenda published earlier this month is futuristic -- perhaps too much so. GM execs say the vision points to the year 2030, and it's all about convergence of vehicular electrification, connectivity and design. While that's a long, long way off, many of these issues are already on the table, and are certainly worth further discussion.
Here's a look at some of GM's suggestions, in the company's own words:
- Accelerate and encourage the move to the electrification of the automobile, including the development of key vehicle components, a smart power grid, and a comprehensive urban recharging infrastructure.
- Increase the diversity of energy sources, particularly the development of a broad array of renewable sources, to support low-emission pathways to electrification.
- Leverage connectivity by ensuring a high-quality wireless communications infrastructure and encouraging the rapid development of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and related intelligent transportation technologies.
- Integrate electrically powered, connected vehicles into a multi-modal transport system that incorporates sophisticated inter-city transport, comprehensive subway systems, traditional vehicle movement, and specialized smaller urban vehicles.
- Identify a series of "lighthouse" projects to rapidly demonstrate the viability and potential of connected electrically driven vehicles in a controlled environment such as an eco-city or small town.
While much of this is not groundbreaking, these are indeed hot-button issues in Detroit, Munich and Toyota City, where auto execs are daily struggling with how to reinvent the auto industry. No doubt, there are significant obstacles on the road to the future, from cost and spending priorities, to legal thickets and politics. One wonders whether it should have been called "The Blue Sky Paper?"
But lets not be too quick to write off GM's ideas, as the company did have three vehicles on display at the Shanghai to give concrete form to their proposals: The Volt, a fuel-cell-powered Equinox SUV, and the "EN-V," for electric networked vehicle concept. GM is also currently showing its stuff at the World Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition in Shenzhen, China.