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Chevrolet Volt  (Source: Brandon Hill, DailyTech)

Cadillac Provoq  (Source: Brandon Hill, DailyTech)

  (Source: Brandon Hill, DailyTech)
GM uses CES to display its highly computerized automobiles

When it comes to General Motors vehicles with advanced powertrains, the Chevrolet Volt led the charge. The attractive four-door sedan uses a lithium-ion battery pack to travel 40 miles on a charge. It can also be plugged into a household outlet to charge over night.

Yesterday, GM announced its Cadillac Provoq concept vehicle, another plug-in, which couples the E-Flex propulsion system with the company's fifth generation fuel cell stack. GM CEO Rick Wagoner today rolled the vehicle out on stage at CES alongside the Volt during his keynote address.

Wagoner stated that the Provoq and its successors are the second big card in GM's hand in terms of protecting the environment, and saving consumers thousands in fuel expenses. Wagoner stated, "The auto industry can no longer depend entirely on oil... It is critical as both a business necessity and as an obligation to society to develop alternative energy."

Developing alternative energy, performing desirably, and looking good at the same time are among the Provoq's abilities.

The Provoq features two 10,000 psi composite storage tanks under the rear cargo floor which store the hydrogen. The dual tanks feed the fuel cell stack which in turn provides up to 88 kW of power. The 9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powers a 70 kW co-axial motor which powers the front wheels while a single 40 kW motor is mounted in the hub of each rear wheel.

Thanks to its advanced powertrain, the Provoq can travel 300 miles with a full load of hydrogen -- it can travel a total of 20 miles on battery power alone. Likewise, the Provoq can reach 60 MPH in just 8.5 seconds and race to a top speed of 100 MPH.

GM also added additional touches which may find their way into future fuel cell and hybrid vehicles. The Provoq contains solar panels on the roof which are used to power electrical accessories within the vehicle. The front grill features louvers which remain open under low speeds to provide maximum cooling for the fuel cell stack, yet close to create a more streamlined shape for optimum aerodynamic performance. Finally, the Provoq features charging ports on either side of the vehicle ahead of the front doors -- this makes it more convenient to charge the vehicle at home.

While the fuel cell technology is definitely an incredible achievement for GM's Advanced Systems Integration team, the Provoq also foreshadows the styling of the next generation Cadillac SRX crossover utility vehicle (CUV).

The current generation SRX is built on the previous generation Cadillac CTS chassis. The second generation CTS was recently launched which means that the SRX is due for its own makeover. The fact that the Provoq looks very close to production-ready and that the interior looks like a heavily stylized version of the second generation CTS' interior leads to the pretty obvious observation.

DailyTech asked two members of the Chevrolet Volt team about the relationship between the Provoq and the second generation SRX -- they looked at each other with a smile and laughed knowingly, although their official stance was a textbook "no comment."

In addition to the Provoq, Wagner also talked up GM's OnStar system which will have the ability to slow down a vehicle at the request of pursuant law enforcement in the event of a vehicle theft. Offiers can call OnStar which can then beam a signal to the car's engine control unit (ECU) – the vehicle then safely slows to a stop while a pleasant voice tells the driver to steer the vehicle to the shoulder and remain in the vehicle. That segment of the keynote got quite a rise from the crowd.

Theft deterrence was not the only new OnStar feature, however.  GM is developing a mobile phone OnStar application which will allow you with a simple click to unlock your car, start your engine, check your car's status, or even help you locate it in a parking lot by turning on your lights and beeping the horn.  In the case that you lost your phone, GM engineers personally assured DailyTech that would-be thieves would not get out of the parking lot -- the car won't shift into gear, even if pre-started unless the key is inserted.

Wagner also talked about the self-driving Chevrolet Tahoe which recently won the DARPA Urban Challenge and the Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicle which will soon be available to southern California and fortunate east coast residents.

DailyTech will have one-on-one sessions with both the DARPA Tahoe and the Equinox fuel cell vehicle along with the Chevrolet Volt tomorrow. Stay tuned for more coverage.

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RE: Props to GM
By Cypherdude1 on 1/9/2008 6:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
Samus, there's one BIG advantage you're not taking into consideration regarding Hybrids. In California and probably other states, you are allowed to drive in the Diamond Lane where 2 or more passengers are required. This alone is worth the extra cost since you can drive alone to work quicker than everyone else.

RE: Props to GM
By mdogs444 on 1/9/2008 6:35:29 AM , Rating: 2
I think in California that may be worthwhile, especially since I dont know anything about the traffic patterns there, outside of movies...but in other states that have these (like the Carolina's), I highly doubt anyone is going to be spending thousands of dollars as a premium just to drive in the "HOV" or "Diamond" lanes. You call it an "advantage" - however, I just dont see anyone seriously taking that part into consideration as a major factor when buying a car.

RE: Props to GM
By Spuke on 1/9/2008 9:45:23 AM , Rating: 2
You get an advantage in moderate traffic but not in heavy traffic. Still not worth the extra cost.

RE: Props to GM
By CollosalDestructor on 1/9/2008 6:44:53 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Props to GM
By Cypherdude1 on 1/10/2008 2:10:04 AM , Rating: 2
In So. California, every weekday, from 6:30am to 7:30pm, the traffic is HELL on almost every freeway. Any advantage you can get helps, unless you want to get a pilot's license and fly an ultralight to work. ;^)

RE: Props to GM
By FITCamaro on 1/9/2008 6:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
So getting to work faster makes up for having to spend more money?.....No.

And holy Jebus. A grand for a freakin brake job? No thanks. I'll stick with regular cars where the pads are $100 tops and I can change them myself if I feel like it. Hell even paying someone its like $300 max if you gotta do all 4 wheels and need new calipers. At least on regular cars. Cars with high performance brakes using multi-piston calipers are a little more expensive.

RE: Props to GM
By Brandon Hill on 1/9/2008 10:43:35 AM , Rating: 2
So getting to work faster makes up for having to spend more money?.....No.

Wow, guys love to talk in absolutes :-)

I don't think it's just so simple as hybrids = bad, conventional engines = good. Take for example the Yukon/Tahoe which gets 21 MPG in the city. That's quite an accomplishment for such a large vehicle. And since all the soccer moms are normally driving around in town anyway, why not get better fuel economy at the same time?

RE: Props to GM
By masher2 on 1/9/2008 10:47:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not a huge fan of hybrids, but if one extrapolates into the future, one thing seems clear. Cars will become more reliable (thus reducing the maintenance differential, if any between a hybrid and a conventional auto), and gasoline will become more expensive.

Five years ago, a hybrid made no financial sense whatsoever. 15 years from now, I think you'll either be driving a hybrid, or somthing even more esoteric.

RE: Props to GM
By Souka on 1/9/2008 3:29:29 PM , Rating: 2
how abotu public transportation? :)

RE: Props to GM
By Etsp on 1/9/2008 5:41:45 PM , Rating: 2
Stop talking nonsense =P

RE: Props to GM
By JediJeb on 1/9/2008 5:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't exist where I live. Only public transit near me is 50 miles away.

RE: Props to GM
By Spivonious on 1/10/2008 9:12:56 AM , Rating: 2
I'd love to, but for me to get to work using the (flawed) local bus system would take over two hours, when I can drive there in 15 minutes.

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