“The convergence of rapidly improving technology and changing consumer preferences is creating an inflection point for the transportation industry not seen in decades.”
— GM CEO Mary Barra
General Motors is the latest automaker to announce an investment in what transportation watchers are calling the “personal mobility revolution.” Personal mobility devices like scooters, e-bikes, and an as-yet-unnamed class of moving robots like Honda’s UNI-CUB, are set to become hugely popular as the population expands and more people choose to live in crowded urban areas as opposed to crowded suburbs.
“The convergence of rapidly improving technology and changing consumer preferences is creating an inflection point for the transportation industry not seen in decades,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “Some might find this massive change to be daunting, but we look at it and see the opportunity to be a disruptor. We believe our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity is fundamental to our quest to redefine the future of personal mobility.
GM plans to build a fleet of self-driving Chevy Volts for use at its Warren Technical Center campus. The cars will be used as part of a car-sharing system for employees, but GM is also announcing two car-sharing initiatives – one in NYC and another to debut next year in an as-yet unnamed city.
The company is also working on an e-bike concept. Many automakers see a future in which e-bikes will come with certain vehicles, allowing owners to park their cars outside of congested areas and ride their e-bikes the rest of their way.
In cooperation with Honda, GM is developing hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) technology. Hydrogen is considered by some a good alternative to electric technology, although since hydrogen is derived from fracking, HFC technology is actually ecologically disastrous, meaning HFC vehicles will be far less green than electric cars. The oil industry is hoping hydrogen takes off, naturally, as hydrogen fuel cells will ensure that cars remain tied to oil extraction, despite appearing more eco-friendly due to having zero emissions.
Like all other automakers, GM is also looking into the use of alternative materials like aluminum, or lighter grades of steel, to help reduce the weight of its vehicles, which will increase their efficiency and reduce emissions.
In spite of last year’s recall fiasco and the subsequent legal settlements, GM is planning to grow over the next five years, thanks to a $5 billion investment in a “Chevrolet growth market vehicle family,” which means Chevys to be sold in China.