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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 someguy743 on 1/10/2008 6:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure there will always be ways of distinguishing one model of car over another one. There will probably be MORE variety when it comes to exterior and interior designs. People in the future might be able to get on a website and customize their car in all sorts of ways. They can program computers to paint your car with certain colors and themes already I think.

I'm sure they will come up with a variety of suspensions and other things. If you want wide tires and a sports car tuned suspension you can get that. If you want the ultimate in luxury, smooth ride and all that, you can have it. If you want a car that accelerates as fast as the Tesla and goes 160 mph, you might have to pay a little extra, but you can get that.

The only thing that will really be different is that you won't hear all the loud noise like you have with internal combustion engines. If you have ever lived on a busy street or near a highway, you are going to LOVE the reduction in noise pollution ... yet another big benefit for the whole world. Noise causes more stress to people than you might think. Who wouldn't want a more quiet, peaceful, less stressful world? People move out to the suburbs for that reason alone. People living in cities can enjoy that same peace and fresh air once the new generation cars become ubiquitous. No more loud 18 wheeler trucks and construction vehicles will be awesome. No more loud lawn mowers or weed eaters either.

There will be lots of positive benefits when the new generation cars come out. I'm looking forward to it. I'll be buying them, I know that.

RE: Props to GM
By Spuke on 1/10/2008 6:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
There will be lots of positive benefits when the new generation cars come out. I'm looking forward to it. I'll be buying them, I know that.
Yep I agree but I STILL like noise in my cars. I get goosebumps when I hear a Ferrari (before I even see it I know what it is) drive by. In the future, Ferrari's will sound like Civic's. Yuck.

I am also not a "book by its cover" person either. I am more interested in what I can't see than what I can see when it comes to cars. The level of ingenuity and personalization (the engineers signature if you will) that goes into an ICE is just amazing and that will no longer exist with an all electric car.

What a car looks like is a much LOWER priority for me than its engineering prowess and design. I have a Pontiac Solstice and although it's a pretty car, I bought it primarily for its rear wheel drive and its turbocharged engine. If those two things were in a Sentra I would've bought that.

I don't know why I am even bothering. My choice has been made for me.

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