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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 Spivonious on 1/9/2008 9:41:19 AM , Rating: 2
Who keeps a car for 10 years these days?

And hybrid techonologies will only get cheaper to maintain as more and more cars make use of it. It's exactly the reason why a DVD player cost $500 when it first came out and now you can get one for under $50.

RE: Props to GM
By mdogs444 on 1/9/2008 11:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
Many people keep cars for 10 years. Many people who are self made wealthy did so by not spending money on things that were not necessary. One of the big things is by keeping a car until it will not run anymore - eliminating the need of a downpayment every few years, as well as recurring monthly car payments.

My dad keeps cars for over 10 years, and barely puts 75k on them in that time. He also does his own oil changes, brake maintenence, etc - basically anything he can do on his own.

The big reason people have money, and gain wealth, is by not spending on things that are not necessities - for example, not wasting your money buying that $500 DVD player until it comes down to $50.

RE: Props to GM
By Spuke on 1/9/2008 12:16:55 PM , Rating: 2
I had kept my old 92 Sentra for 12 years which enabled me to buy an 04 Sentra with cash. My wife got tired of the maintenance costs of the 92 so I ended up with a new car. I sold the 04 and bought the Solstice because I wanted a fun car. Not a wise move but you only live once.

RE: Props to GM
By Ringold on 1/10/2008 1:38:40 AM , Rating: 2
Many people who are self made wealthy did so by not spending money on things that were not necessary.

Thats the truth.

Cars are depreciating assets that gnaw at your net wealth from the moment you lay eyes on them (almost). Trading in every couple years over the course of an entire career could probably mean a huge difference in the size of ones retirement account when the time comes.

not wasting your money buying that $500 DVD player

$500 on a DVD player for a 30 year old aiming to retire at 60 just gave up $8,724 that could've grown tax free in a Roth IRA in a simple S&P 500 index fund -- just as an example.

For a 20 year old, the figure would be $22,629. Can start to see how even blue collar folk can afford a comfy retirement -- just as my assembly-line worker folks managed, by taking charge for themselves. Not that many 20 year old guys are much concerned with retirement.. sadly.

RE: Props to GM
By masher2 on 1/10/2008 8:16:57 AM , Rating: 2
> "$500 on a DVD player for a 30 year old aiming to retire at 60 just gave up $8,724 that could've grown tax free in a Roth IRA"

Then considering I paid over $1200 for my first DVD player, I gave up close to $20,000 in retirement money. Save every penny, and a $20M+ retirement fund isn't a problem.

But at age 60+, I don't see what I'd spend that much money on. Two new Ferraris and nightly dinners with supermodels?

Obviously saving for retirement is important...but it can be carried too far. Its a lot harder to enjoy life at 60 than at 30. Vive ut Vivas!

RE: Props to GM
By Ringold on 1/10/2008 8:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
No disagreement, have to have some balance.. and some fun. I don't know how anyone could live in misery and be able to continue to saving.

Mdogs and I, I think, were just singling out using a car for longer than just a couple years as a pretty easy way to save vast amounts of cash. I was trying to provide another example or two partly for the shock effect, I admit.

But I didn't fudge my numbers, either.
500(1.1)^30 = 8724, with that 10% being the consensus long-term annualized gain of the S&P.

RE: Props to GM
By FITCamaro on 1/9/2008 12:58:03 PM , Rating: 3
Who keeps a car for 10 years these days?

People who don't like constant car payments? People who are happy with what they have? People who don't feel the need to show off their brand new car every 2-3 years? People with half a brain?

Take your pick.

RE: Props to GM
By Spivonious on 1/10/2008 9:11:42 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, I guess the general populus is different than the one in my area. Personally, I agree with what everyone said. I have no intention of selling my car until it breaks down and costs more to fix than it's worth. 15k miles a year for 10 years is 150k miles. I'm pretty sure by then my car will be worth about $1500 so if it needs any work over new brake pads it's getting replaced.

But looking around, it's hard to find a car on the streets that's more than 10 years old. And a lot of the more upper middle class people I know lease their cars (what a waste of money that is!).

And all those people you listed make up most of the population :P

RE: Props to GM
By DoeBoy on 1/10/2008 11:40:46 AM , Rating: 2
I dont know where you guys live but here in
Chapel Hill, NC there are more older cars than u would believe. I drive a 87 volvo 740 with 104k miles on it and i got it for 1500 with 90000. it needed some general maintenance like belt changes, water pump etc. but it is very reliable with the maintenance done. Tons of volvo's, mercedes, etc. in this town older than 10 years. Hey you wanna go green why not buy a good used car instead of buying a new car. I have seen these old volvo b230's go for over 250k miles with no major work. Maybe we just need to start realizing that cars can run up to and beyond 200k miles. I dont think a car is worth a damn unless it can do that.

RE: Props to GM
By Spuke on 1/10/2008 12:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
And a lot of the more upper middle class people I know lease their cars (what a waste of money that is!).
Actually it's not if you never plan to buy the car. If you just want to drive a new car every three years, you'll spend WAY less money (even with over mileage penalties) then buying a car conventionally. A lot of people swap cars every 3-5 years and for them a lease would be best way to save their money.

The argument I hear from everyone against leasing is that you don't own the car. Well guess what? You don't own the car until you pay the loan off and you have the title in your name. Until that happens, the bank owns your car.

IMO, if you are GOING to own the car past the life of the loan then don't lease. If you're going to sell or trade in the car as soon as the loan is paid or before it's paid get a lease.

RE: Props to GM
By Moishe on 1/9/2008 2:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
People who aren't wasting their money on a car payment.

Like me.

A car payment is a guaranteed loss. Instead, I pay my car off as fast as possible, and then save long enough to buy the next car with cash. I'm drawing interest, not paying it. it adds up to thousands of dollars.

RE: Props to GM
By JediJeb on 1/9/2008 6:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
Still driving my 96 F150, owned it since December 96. 184k miles and only thing I have had to do it replace a water pump and one fuel injector aside from belts and hoses.

I figured up the other day that if I bought a new car getting 36mpg instead of the 18mpg of my truck, at about $25k for the car it would take about 8 years to make back the cost of the new car in fuel savings. Now if someone sells one of these new fuel cell vehicles for around $18k I will consider trading. But I doubt it will happen.

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