Electric dreams drive urban power shift
YOU are looking at tomorrow’s Holden city car. This dinky ‘‘gumball blue’’ two-seater, called the Xiao, was designed by GM Holden in Port Melbourne to showcase 21st century thinking.
It is one of three General Motors concepts destined for this year’s World Expo in Shanghai.
Called EN-V for electric networked vehicle, the three carbon fibre commuter cars use hitech electronics to interact with other drivers and the road network.
Former GM Holden executive Kevin Wale, now president and managing director of GM China, boldly says the concepts ‘‘reinvent the automobile’’.
‘‘It provides an ideal solution for urban mobility that enables future driving to be free from petroleum and emissions, free from congestion and accidents,’’ he says.
The Xiao, which means laugh, will be joined by the Jiao and Miao.
The Jiao, which means pride, was penned by GM’s European designers and the Miao, which means magic, came out of GM’s advance design studio in California.
The cars have evolved from an electric prototype developed last year by Segway.
Each is powered by two lithium ion electric motors in each of its driving wheels that give the cars a range of 40km.
They can be recharged using a conventional household power outlet and can search the electricity grid to find out the most suitable off-peak time to recharge.
Using drive-by-wire technology, the electric motors not only power the car but act as brakes.
At just 1.5m long, they are even shorter than a tiny Smart fortwo and have a footprint about a third of the size of a small hatchback.
Extensive use of carbon fibre and other hi-tech materials have kept weight to just 500kg.
A global positioning system, car-tocar communication and distance-sensing technologies allow them to select the best route while external sensors and cameras mean it can react quickly to obstacles or changes in conditions.
Each takes a different view of motoring. The Miao’s sleek looks and LED lighting takes its cues from household electronics while the Jiao draws its influences from bullet trains and Chinese opera masks.
Hi-tech: Xiao has a range of 40km.