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GM's Futuristic Cutback: A Two-Wheeled Car


Troubled American auto giant General Motors is taking a bold approach as it tries to survive the global economic crisis - reinventing the car.

GM unveiled its latest bid to remain relevant Tuesday in New York, a two-wheeled, two-seat electric car that can get the equivalent of up to 85 kilometers per liter.

The project is called PUMA for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility and is a joint venture with Segway, a company that makes a unique type of scooter known as a "Personal Transporter."

GM and Segway officials say the vehicle will be ideal for cities and can reach speeds of 56 kilometers per hour while traveling up to 56 kilometers on a single charge to its battery.

The companies did not say when the PUMA might be available for sale to the public or how much it will cost.

General Motors started working with Segway on the PUMA project 18 months ago, before it first asked for billions of dollars in government loans.

U.S. President Barack Obama has told the company it needs to develop a new, viable restructuring plan if it wants to get additional aid. Earlier this week, GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson told NBC's Meet the Press that the company might have to declare bankruptcy.

The 136-kilogram PUMA uses much of the same technology that is found in Segway's scooters.

The Segway scooter places its wheels side-by-side and lets the user steer and balance, while standing, using a combination of technologies. The main difference is that PUMA users will sit rather than stand.

GM officials also say they hope to equip the PUMA so it will be able to communicate with other vehicles and even use transponder and Global Positioning System technology to allow the vehicle to essentially drive itself.

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