Underlining the ever-converging automotive and electronic worlds, GM's boss Rick Wagoner arrived on stage here at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in GM's electric-powered Chevy Volt to deliver his keynote speech, marking the first time in the show's history that a leading automaker had addressed the convention. "If the automobile were invented today, I'm pretty sure it would debut here at CES," said Wagoner before launching into an overview of GM's technology, including details of the carmaker's alternative-fuel, telematics, and autonomous vehicle programs, and finally unveiling the latest concept vehicle in GM's E-Flex lineup, the Cadillac Provoq.
Powered by GM's fifth-generation hydrogen-fuel-cell system and a lithium-ion battery pack, the Provoq marks the expansion of GM's E-Flex system from the Chevy brand into its luxury Cadillac line. Like the fuel-cell powered Chevy Sequel, the Provoq relies on three electric motors--one mounted between the front wheels, in-wheel motors in each of the rear wheels--to power the car, which can apparently drive 300 miles on a single fill of hydrogen and 20 miles on battery electric energy alone. Unlike the Sequel, the Provoq can be charged from a standard A/C outlet via one of two charging ports in each of its front fenders. Other innovative features of the vehicle include a solar cell in the roof to assist with powering onboard electronics; an "active" front grille, with grille louvers that open when the fuel cell requires cooling and close at high speed to reduce drag; and shift- and brake-by-wire system.
The Provoq joins the growing list of GM's E-Flex concept vehicles that will require advances in lithium-ion battery technology to become a reality, a point that Wagoner acknowledged as being "key" to the advance of electric vehicles.