The Segway/GM Puma was unveiled yesterday to much derision on CNBC, as anchor after anchor made fun and declared they'd never get in one. Unfortunately, they're overlooking the wisdom of the old saying, "anything worth doing is worth doing badly". While there are some problems with the initial prototype (no roof or crash protection gear), this is just the kind of effort that we should be looking for from our leading companies - addressing the problems of tomorrow.
Puma does address the following realities:
- Rising energy prices;
- An aging population that will increasingly need assistance getting around;
- Increased urbanization and population density;
- Product line extension of the Segway platform;
- Excess capacity at GM;
- Improving battery technology;
- Increased acceptance of electric vehicles - and their quirks.
When the primary criticism of these smaller electric vehicles is their small size compared to "Hummers", perhaps it is time for the US to start seriously considering the future of transportation and how to solve these problems, rather than abdicate these markets and technologies to the many Asian competitors that are arising. And it is probably also wise to remember that America was not built via a perfected central plan or series of royal decrees, but rather through the struggles and solutions that came to millions of people trying to find a better way. While Puma may not take over the road anytime soon, or ever, GM and Segway are to be credited for doing something - something worth doing.
Disclosure: No positions.