GM's Bare Necessities Concept Cars -- You Don't Really Need Seats, Do You?

Posted: Aug 12, 2009 11:08 a.m.

Yesterday, General Motors held a press conference outlining all of the new vehicles it plans to show off by the year 2012.  The list included luxurious huge Cadillacs, high-tech plug-in hybrids, and two new models, a car and a pickup truck, both so stripped down the passenger's seat may be an option.

GreenCarReports explains, "The two vehicles--a car and a truck--are meant to be maximally minimal... The idea is to improve the efficiency--not just gas mileage but the efficiency of the entire production process--of a four-seat car by cutting cost and complexity while using sustainable materials. Their metric for success: the lowest cost-per-mile for owners."

The "Bare Necessities Car" is a small, two-door vehicle stripped of most of its features.  GreenCarReports notes, "No powertrain is specified, though you could expect a radically downsized gasoline engine, perhaps a hybrid electric system, maybe even full electric drive"  The car carries virtually no entertainment devices instead using "no more than a USB port to plug them into the vehicle's speakers."

In a video on Edmunds Inside Line, the car's lead designer explains, "You don't need to carry around extra weight you don't need to pay for features you don't need."

The "Bare Necessities Truck" takes the same approach into the pickup market.  In researching consumer desires, Automobile Magazine notes, GM designers learned that "Not all truck owners drive them because they can, but some actually use the truck and use it to help the environment through river cleanups and other similar activities. The Bare Necessity Truck is built similarly to an Avalanche in that it offers a pickup bed and rear seats that can be converted into part of the bed. In stark contrast to the mid-size trucks today that get a little over 20 mpg, the designers aim to get 40 mpg out of the Bare Necessity Truck."

Both vehicles are simply concepts at this point, but could hint at a future production car. 

GM is soliciting feedback on the ideas through a new website.  Motor Trend reports that the company "is looking to channel opinions into feedback it can use as it moves forward with a new, customer-driven focus group of sorts called ‘The Lab,' an area where the GM faithful and skeptical can offer feedback about future projects." 

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.