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Hands on: GM EN-V

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The most conventional bit about General Motor’s car of the future are the controls that let us drive it. And even they take some getting used to.

The EN-V (Electric Networked Vehicle) is a believable vision of what city dwellers will be driving 20 to 30 years from now. Incredibly, despite ticking all the boxes needed to convincingly star in a sci-fi movie, this electric two-seater is driveable and even, with a few tweaks, sellable.

By far the most exciting part of the drive happens before you’ve even moved. Press a button on the controller and the whole vehicle tips back and balances on its two parallel wheels.

EN-V controls

Using the same gyroscopic system as the stand-on Segway, the EN-V stays perfectly upright without any need to correct on the part of the driver or passenger.

In fact, throw your weight forward and the EN-V instantly corrects. There’s a bit of rocking and a few mm of forward movement, but that soon stops and you’re back on an even keel (it doesn’t tip, we tried). It's a completely different approach to that other transport of the future, the Renault Twizy.

It works by attaching the extraordinary helmet-shaped carbon fibre body onto runners fitted into the magnesium chassis. Through a system of cables, the body is pulled forward or back to keep the whole thing level. With the weighty lithium-ion batteries down low in the chassis, the EN-V feels remarkably stable.

EN-V driving

With just one axle, it’s incredibly short at just 1.5m end to end. For a comparison, the Smart ForTwo also seats two, but is 2.7m long. That compactness is of course very useful in cities, and in GM’s vision of the future this will allow the construction of special lifts outside our apartment blocks to take us and our EN-V right to our flat. Or let us drive it onto special train carriages for journeys longer than the 25-mile battery range.

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