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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: Cost?
By clovell on 1/9/2008 12:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
The Volt is currently expected to come in between 25-30k.

RE: Cost?
By Spuke on 1/9/2008 2:59:24 PM , Rating: 1
Doubt it. Expect it to cost at least $35k. Don't be surpised if it's closer to $40k. We're talking about bleeding edge tech here and GM sure as heck isn't going to foot the R&D costs. Bob Lutz had already said that the cost of cars will be going up quite a bit.

You want it, you'll pay for it.

RE: Cost?
By clovell on 1/9/2008 4:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
The batteries are bleeding edge. The rest isn't that complicated. GM has announced on numerous occasions that they want it to retail for under 30k - if they fail to deliver on that, they'll be in a pretty big bind. GM can't afford to mess up like that, so I'll take them at their word for now.

RE: Cost?
By Spuke on 1/9/2008 5:50:22 PM , Rating: 2
It won't put them in a bind because all they'll say is that there was no way they could've predicted the cars price two years before it's built. Even at $35k, the cars will still be sold quickly (and at a premium...expect markups) so it'll still work out for them.

RE: Cost?
By Hoser McMoose on 1/10/2008 2:07:56 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Even if GM has to sell the first 50,000 at a bit of a loss it'll be worth it for them. There is a LOT riding on the Volt for GM. If it's a success it could well position them to have a BIG lead over every other car manufacturer out there.

When the Volt comes out, it will almost certainly carry an MRSP of $29,995 (give or take $4) for a base configuration.

RE: Cost?
By Ringold on 1/10/2008 1:43:41 AM , Rating: 2
Volt, yes. Article wasn't about the Volt, though, necessarily, it was about the fuel cell vehicle. Estimates always before had been over a hundred thousand in the near future if mass produced, so I'm curious too if they have got it down or if this is just dressing it up pretty to impress us geeks at CES.

RE: Cost?
By clovell on 1/10/2008 5:49:57 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I understood his plural use of the word 'cars' and the fact that the first two paragraphs of the article were, in fact, about the Volt to mean 'both the Provoq and the Volt', rather than 'the genre the Provoq falls into'.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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