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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 MrX8503 on 1/9/2008 2:57:20 PM , Rating: 2
Turbos are forced induction. Forced being the keyword here. Theoretically a turbo charged engine would be less reliable than a non-turbo charged one. Unless the cylinder walls are thick enough, a turbo charged engine would be less reliable by nature of forcing more pressure into the engine to create more horsepower.

On another note, diesel engines would theoretically be less reliable than gas engines because diesel uses high pressures to ignite the gas/air mixture, whereas gas engines uses a spark plug. Pressure ignition is a lot more efficient because it ignites every molecule resulting in better mileage, but it puts an incredible strain on the engine from high pressures.


RE: Props to GM
By masher2 (blog) on 1/9/2008 4:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
> "diesel engines would theoretically be less reliable than gas engines because diesel uses high pressures "

True. In practice, however, diesel engines are nearly always more reliable, because they're built to withstand those higher pressures.

> "Pressure ignition is a lot more efficient because it ignites every molecule... "

No. A diesel engine is more efficient because it runs off a higher temperature differential. The efficiency of a heat engine is based on the difference between its high and low temperatures.


RE: Props to GM
By theapparition on 1/10/2008 8:47:16 AM , Rating: 2
So wrong I don't even know where to begin.

Forced inductions (Turbo/Superchargers) are certainly more harsh on engines, and the cylinders have to cope with much higher pressures. However, no engine I've ever seen has had a direct cylinder wall failure from pressure. You'll usually get piston/rod or head/valve problems before every having to worry about cylinder integrity. In fact, usually the only reason a cylinder wall gets damaged is from failure of the other components (like a snapped valve being thrown around the clyinder at 6500RPM), or from very high heat, which forced inductions are prone to. There are ways to combat heat, like both my SC cars have meth injection.

Turbo's are far less reliable because they use exhaust pressure (very high heat) to spool a turbine. Those turbines spin at very high speeds to make any appreciable boost. ANYTIME you spin something faster, it is prone to wear out sooner. That's a core tenent of mechanical engineering. Bearings wear out faster, material fatigues quicker, etc. Add the high heat were dealing with and that only accelerates this effect. Plus, oil can cook in the turbos if driven too hard.

Many reasons that turbos are far less reliable than NA engines, but cyliner wall integrity is not one of them.


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