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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 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.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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