The Corner

RE: A Sign of the Times

In fairness to GM and the PUMA, Ronnie Schreiber (who knows of what he speaks in matters automotive) sends the following email:

GM is everybody’s favorite whipping boy, whether they’re on the right or the left. I do some automotive writing for The Truth About Cars and PajamasMedia and the fact is that within the past few years both Toyota and Honda have developed mobility concepts not very dissimilar to GM’s PUMA. The reason why the PUMA is in the news is because tomorrow is the start of the media preview for the New York auto show.

The fact is that car companies must devote some level of resources to advanced concepts like the PUMA to see if they’re practical and to develop technology. If car companies do not want to become today’s buggy whip manufacturers, they have to recognize that they aren’t in the car business so much as they are in the transportation business.

As a tech enthusiast, I think the use of Segway’s gyroscopic stability system is a clever way to make a small urban vehicle. Also, with Tata introducing the tiny and low cost Nano, minimalist transportation appears to be a new and growing market. With a 35 mile range, the PUMA could satisfy the commuting needs of a large percentage of American drivers. Almost 80% of drivers drive less than 40 miles per day.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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