CBS Evening News

Dan Rather and Adrian Chernoff

“At the North American International Auto Show, automakers would rev up the economy with innovation.”

Date:  January 7, 2002
Time:  5:30 PM
Title:  Auto Show Would Rev Up Economy With Innovation Dan Rather, Anthony Mason, 557 words
Program:  CBS News: Evening News with Dan Rather
Language:  English, (c) Copyright Federal Document Clearing House. All Rights Reserved.


DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: As CBS’s Anthony Mason reports, GM has a new car that leaves some of the assembly to you.

ANTHONY MASON, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In Detroit this week, the world’s automakers are showing off their new cars and their concept cars. But today, General Motors proposed to change cars as we know them.

LARRY BURNS, VP, GM RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: It’s my pleasure to present Autonomy.

MASON: Imagine a skateboard-like chassis that allows you to snap-on interchangeable bodies. With Autonomy, GM says it will be possible.

ADRIAN CHERNOFF, GM AUTONOMY CHIEF PROGRAM ARCHITECT: We believe this is the future. This is the reinvention of the automobile. I feel like Mr. Wright, one of the Wright brothers, you know, with this vehicle.

MASON: Architect Adrian Chernoff says Autonomy would be hydrogen- powered.

CHERNOFF: You have the fuel cell system in here, the hydrogen storage.

MASON: And electronically controlled, no foot pedals. You simply squeeze the control panel to break or accelerate. It would be the most significant architectural change to the automobile in more than a century, the death of the internal combustion engine. You refuel with hydrogen, not gas. And because it’s electrochemically powered, the Autonomy has no engine, no transmission, and no drive train.

BURNS: In fact, the only thing that’s moving on this vehicle, besides electrons and protons and water, are the wheels and the suspension.

CHERNOFF: When you’re sitting in the vehicle, all that stuff in front of you is completely gone now. So you have complete visibility as a designer. The freedom there is just like a blank canvas for a designer.

BURNS: But critics, like “Car and Driver’s” Csaba Csere, say Autonomy may be too flexible.

CSABA CSERE, EDITOR, “CAR AND DRIVER”: It’s a very difficult thing to do. We’re talking about jack of all trades and master of none. And that’s what’s worries me about this type of concept.

MASON: How pie-in-the-sky is it?

RICHARD WAGONER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, GM: Well, it’s obviously pushing the technology. So you won’t see us producing it next year.

BURNS: You don’t even have to change the oil because you don’t have oil in it.

MASON: But GM says it will have a driveable prototype by the end of this year, and that Autonomy could be a reality by the end of the decade. Anthony Mason, CBS News, Detroit.

RATHER: Snap-on car parts. Part of our world tonight.

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