How many “vehicles of the future” really make it to our driveway? I seem to remember something about the rocket-powered highway concept cars from the 1950s. Don’t see many of those around, although I think a home-built version was the basis of the original Darwin Award.
GMC has stepped-up to the plate with their GMC PAD design. The name suggests an acronym of some sort, but actually it so far appears to be a General Motors Corporation (GMC) PAD, as in “hey baby, let’s chill out in my hip pad that looks like a worm on wheels”.
The usual story is that technology brings the elite lifestyle to the masses. You might say temperature controls, food, clothing, transportation, personal hygene, etc. are better now for the average person than for kings and queens of hundreds of years ago. I mention this because the GMC PAD seems like a fancy version of a Winnebago at best, and a fancy version of what a homeless person who lives in his/her car might imagine as something to make their plight less painful. Some might call this the ultimate in homeless living.
In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the idea of roving homes with little/no attachment to the land is based in rural and expansive cultures that want to explore beyond their own acreage, or who have no hopes of owning a plot (like ocean cruisers). It does not fit the urban cramped-space model at all, where people live 50 stories above ground due to the cost of space. So unless sky-scraping parking garages will become the condo infrastructure of the future this is definitely NOT the direction that most people say we’re headed in terms of efficient use of land and resources. More to the point, the PAD brochures claim that this vehicle has a “skydeck for enjoying the sights and sounds of LA culture”. Wow. They talk as if people today are trying to build observation points on their homes to get a better view of LA. They certainly could do so, but I suspect the thing that’s stopping the vast majority has something to do with the fact that LA is more about subsistance and stripping the land of its value for personal gain, rather than any kind of beautification or public and scenic downtown, let alone a park system for the common folk to enjoy from their back window (without some ultra-intense police flashlight in their rear-view mirror).
The suggestion that this vehicle could be used for disaster response and emergency housing makes a bit more sense, but usually people look for rapid-deployment materials that don’t cost several hundred thousands of dollars and include a power-hungry “media rich environment”. You wouldn’t want to drop one of these off the back of a C-130.
There is brief mention of an “endless variety of entertainment, information and security options” but no details. Bulletproof? Encrypted signals? Radiation proof? Air filtering? Speaking of security, here’s a loophole in regulation I’ve seen people use in the LA area — run a business out of a vehicle on private property. The Department of Transportation doesn’t have jurisdiction over the private property and the rest of the agencies don’t have jurisdiction over vehicles, so if you’re clever enough you can drive your GMC PAD right through some kind of crack in regulations, while it lasts. And with those Hummer-friendly tax loopholes this ultra-luxury vehicle becomes a complete “business” write-off. Now that might be appealing to the LA-elite.
Well, at the end of the day as the sun sets behind the PAD, the best part is that it runs on diesel-electric hybrid, which is excellent news because it suggests someone at GMC may be contemplating this awesome power-plant for mass production. In fact, if it were up to me, I’d rather put that kind of engine technology in the new VW GX3 “motorcyle”, pictured to the left, and pull a little trailer that transforms into livable space. At least then you could go out for a drive in the mountains without hauling your laundry.