By Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press
Mar. 25, 2010 -- It's not quite as foldable as the space vehicle that cartoon figure George Jetson pops into his briefcase as he bops into the office. But the EN-V concept car, GM's "automobile solution" for the future, just might fit into an apartment foyer.
General Motors and its Chinese partner SAIC will showcase the "Electric Networked-Vehicle" launched Wednesday in their joint pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, which opens May 1 and runs for six months.
The EN-V, pronounced "envy," is GM's latest effort to burnish its credentials as a future-focused, environmentally friendly company and shed its image as the bastion of the gas guzzling Hummer. The automaker is in the process of winding down Hummer after a deal collapsed to sell it to a Chinese heavy equipment maker.
GM is not alone in viewing China as the ultimate landscape for tiny urban vehicles. Daimler introduced its Smart ultracompact here in 2008, though few of them can be seen yet on Shanghai streets.
The two-wheel, two-seater EN-V, which looks something like an oversized vacuum cleaner, is not just about making vehicles small, lightweight and emission-free, the company says.
"What we're talking about here is completely redoing the automobile," says Michael Albano, director of product and technology communications at General Motors International Operations -- its global headquarters for international business in Shanghai.