Musings of an Aussie design strategist gone North

Lost in Translation: The Running Joke


As I’ve stated before, having to rely on Google Translate can provide some pretty humorous moments in my daily web trawl.

The latest piece of translatory tomfoolery comes courtesy of Der Spiegel and the butt of the joke is that that braying, wounded beast General Motors and their new partner in Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, Segway.

The headline of the article is Der fahrende Witz which translates as The Running Joke.

It’s a harsh blow – one of a few on the tubes yesterday – to the new partnership which proposes a 2-seater Segway as an urban mobility solution (head over to Re*Move for more in-depth coverage of the product itself). Sadly, however, it neatly sums up GM’s PR probleme du jour: they can’t do anything right.

From the sidelining of Saab – the European brand with arguably the best claim to a progressive eco image -, rocking up to congress in the company jet, the soporific Volt launch schedule and even the cancelling of the EV-1 project (which is coming back to bite them in the bum as a reminder of how GM “hates” innovation and panders to the oil companies), there is such an air of desperate ignorance that when GM does get something right, it’s now seen as nothing more than a cynical attempt to polish the turd that is their corporate image. Travesties like the Terrain only add insult to injury.

Well P.U.M.A is one initiative we shouldn’t kick while GM is down. Even if it does smell (just a little) of a desperate “Here’s one we prepared earlier!” manoeuvre, GM needs to be roundly applauded for proposing such a decidedly non-car solution to urban transport. However, as my mate Joe points out, success will hinge on P.U.M.A’s implementation as a service, not a product.

So three cheers to GM for fighting on and leveraging innovation as a way out of this funk and let’s give them whatever encouragement they need to become a sustainable mobility provider.

Head over to Re*Move for the complete run-down and in-depth analysis.

[Cheers to BonBon for the tip] [Image: Segway]


Filed under: Design Strategy, Eco, Lost in Translaton, Things I like, , , , , ,

About DownsideUpDesign

I'm Drew Smith and I'm a freelance design strategist and journalist for the automotive industry. DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. Get in touch at downsideupdesigner (at) me (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.