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04/01/2009: "The Bailout Bicycle"
One day after the White House asked for, and received, the resignation of GM Chairman/CEO Rick Waggoner, the man who held the reins as the stumbling giant collapsed under the weight of its own fat, General Motors has announced the formation of a new bicycle development group?

For those of you who are on top of things, this is not news, but for me it is a revelation. And for those of you like me, here's the scoop.

Organized under GM Design, the new frame line would bear the brand "Altairus". From this periodic blogger's perspective, it is a lovely coincidence! GM Design's chief is Ed Welbum and his previous job was as the head of "body-on-frame architecture" at GM.

Don't worry. GM will still build cars, but according to automotive news sources, the idea behind Altairus is to "reimage" GM as a healthy company in more ways than one. With the auto giant's reputation in tatters and its market share shrinking, the new effort is designed to create positive buzz about the company. Besides going green, speaking to the growing healthy living demographic, the move gets them into a new emerging market.

Welbum's predecessor, Wayne Cherry, who retired from GM in 2003, agrees with the move. "The startup costs are small, and the concept-to-production cycle is short when compared to cars. [GM] can have these vehicles in dealerships before the end of 2009."

Which is one thing that won't change. After looking into what it takes to get an Altairus franchise, it turns out that mot likely only big regional chanis like Helen's and mail order giants like Performance will be able to afford it.

Organized under GM Design, the new group will create both commuter and competitive designs. "Race circuits is a great way to get out the word on a new vehicle brand," Sr. GM Design Engineer Walter Fredricks is reported to have said. "Having our bicycles in the Tour de France and in the mountain bike championships says a lot about comfort and durability."

Every aspect of the bike will be on the table for redesign at GM. Frames would run the gamut of materials, with the possibility of new alloys being developed exclusively for GM bikes. Alternative geometry will be explored. Tandems and something they're calling "tandem+" (with room for kids) and trailers will be made.

Altairus will also design their own components, like new automatic transmissions and generators for lights. In addition (ready for this?) new accessories will be created, like a solar powered Blu-Ray player, voice recognition GPS, integrated automatic locks, and built in push-to-talk systems. Ah, the sweet vestiges of their automotive past!

Will the future see a space in your garage for a Altairus? Who knows. This is America, and as everyone knows, anything is possible in America...

That is the news for today, April 1, 2009. April Fools!

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