autoevolution

Remembering the GMC PAD, General Motors’ Super-Fancy Motorhome of the Future

City life is not getting any better, with increased congestion and pollution, overcrowding and soaring prices. So how about turning the car, once regarded simply as a commodity that gets you from point A to point B, into the solution to all these problems?
The GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesome 8 photos
The GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesomeThe GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesomeThe GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesomeThe GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesomeThe GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesomeThe GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesomeThe GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesome
The idea is not new, of course. We’re currently experiencing a different take on it, where the car is the means to escape the city and live on the road – by means of tiny homes, RVs and motorhomes. But in the early aughts, the focus was on finding something that would integrate into and adapt to the ever-changing city landscape, offering both accommodation and a means of transport.

This is the case of the GMC PAD concept, which was General Motors’ entry into the LA Adventure Design Competition and the winner of the same-year California Design Challenge. Presented at the LA Auto Show (also in 2006), it was defined as an urban loft with mobility, or a Living Activity Vehicle. And it was the most awesome and super-fancy thing ever (*until then).

If only for the nostalgia of those days or to sample the optimism in this particular design, it’s worth the revisit. Strangely enough, even after all these years, the GMC PAD holds up in terms of innovation and applicability. It would still be the perfect motorhome for the city, substituting for a real home, and offering all the amenities necessary for a comfortable life – sans the sky-high rent prices.

The GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesome
The GMC PAD was designed by GM’s West Coast Advanced Design Studio in California: Steve Anderson, Senon B. Franco III, Jay Bernard, Phil Tanioka, Sidney Levy, Brian Horton, Alessandro Zezza, Christine Ebner, Frank Saucedo, to list the entire team. It was never envisioned as with any kind of potential for production, but merely as an example of a vehicle that would allow living comfortably and proper experiencing the ever-changing cultural landscape of Southern California.

The PAD was very high-tech, since it was designed for young professionals who needed to be in the heart of the city but could not afford the high rates. It was basically a small apartment on wheels, but of the fanciest kind – the apartment, not the wheels. It had a small kitchen / serving area, an office area, and a bathroom and spa area. More impressively, it was rigged to stay off the grid for months in a row if needed, to further cut expenses.

With two operating modes, Drive Mode and Life Mode, the GMC PAD was powered by a diesel-electric hybrid system that would offer propulsion in Drive and serve as generator in Life Mode. The onboard fuel and water supplies, along with resource management technology and 64.5 square meters (6 square meters) of solar panels on the SkyDeck would ensure extended autonomy.

Other features on this proposed motorhome of the future included an electromagnetic suspension system for leveling and stability in Life Mode and improved handling in Drive, electronically-variable opacity exterior glazing, and a teraflop of onboard digital memory. Because this mobile home would also have to serve as office, the GM designers imagined it with WiFi internet, Direct TV, OnStar navigation, and XM Satellite radio, for instant and constant connectivity.

The GMC PAD, the 2006 urban loft with mobility, was the very definition of awesome
Home appliances were designed specifically for the concept, and they included Thermador kitchen appliances and a full-Kohler bathroom. The kitchen slash prep area wasn’t among the most impressive in terms of size, even by those days’ standards, but we can all agree that young professionals living in any of the major urban areas in the world are accustomed to getting by with much less. As if to compensate, the designers allowed for multi-functionality of the SkyDeck, which could be used as a unique vantage point to take in the views.

Also on the topic of modularity, the PAD could be repurposed as an emergency response vehicle with only the slightest reconfiguration. A motorhome of the future, alright.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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