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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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GM is gonna lose
By aguilpa1 on 1/9/2008 10:07:35 AM , Rating: 2
They still don't get it as do must "hybrid" or "green" automotive companies. Why in the hell are they developing expensive, SUV's and Sport vehicles as hybrids? The common folks wants something cheap, affordable that will save them some gas if they are interested in saving gas. These are not the folks that want expensive SUV's or Sport Sedans?????? Damn, whats so hard about that????




RE: GM is gonna lose
By Spuke on 1/9/2008 12:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
There's plenty of choices in inexpensive cars on the market. There IS a market to buy large expensive SUV's else no one would buy them and they never would've gotten so popular. It's a smart move to make more fuel efficient SUV's since people are STILL buying them. Cars companies don't make very much money on small eco cars in the US so it doesn't make sense to pour a bunch of money into them, besides they already get great gas mileage. Not to mention, this new tech costs a ton of money and using it on a cheap car makes that car not so cheap anymore.

This new tech needs to be used in cars that people are buying because that would make the greatest difference. The Corolla sells very well in the US though so maybe we'll see some interesting tech in the future on that car.


RE: GM is gonna lose
By FITCamaro on 1/9/2008 1:01:55 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Why in the hell are they developing expensive, SUV's and Sport vehicles as hybrids?


Because people will buy them? There's plenty of people out there who want a big, expensive SUV but want to feel good about themselves and say they drive a hybrid.


RE: GM is gonna lose
By Oregonian2 on 1/10/2008 3:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
Also I expect there's more to be gained there (with the conversion) both for the buyer as well as for the car company that needs to get its average fuel consumption up to the government requirements. Especially important if SUV's (etc) are a significant portion of their sales.
You fix the "big hurts" before attacking the little ones.


RE: GM is gonna lose
By Hoser McMoose on 1/10/2008 2:26:50 AM , Rating: 2
The thing with hybrids is that they save you a percentage of fuel consumption (usually around 30-35% for parallel hybrids, more like 35-40% for a serial hybrid). The more gas the vehicle uses the larger the savings by making it a hybrid. With a small vehicle you might only end up saving a few hundred dollars a year in gas costs by going to a hybrid, but with a large SUV you could easily save $1,000+/year similar driving patterns.

On the flip side, extra costs to produce a hybrid are reasonably constant. Making a small vehicle a hybrid would probably add $4000 to the cost (as it does with the Honda Civic) while making a large SUV a hybrid only adds $6000.

Put quite simply, the economics work out much better to make large SUVs hybrids as compared to small subcompacts.

The first real success stories with hybrid vehicles were NOT the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight, but rather public transit buses!


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