The first consumer electronics car?
General Motors' CEO Rick Wagoner just took the wraps off the Cadillac Provoq—the first car ever introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show. Their latest fuel-cell vehicle gets twice the range of the new Equinox SUVs that are about to hit the road, and its “engine” is only half as large.
It still seems weird to put the words Cadillac, crossover vehicle (small SUV) and environmental in the same sentence . . . maybe that’s why they named it Provoq. (And hopefully they are better at engineering than at spelling.)
In addition to looking badass, the Provoq has just about every green feature you (or GM) could think of. There's a plug on each side for
charging the lithium-ion batteries at home, plus a solar panel on the roof for
charging on the road. Louvers in the front of the car can open up to provide
more cooling or close to reduce wind resistance at high speed. The 300-mile
range is nice for convenience, but not critical. After all, you can refill the
car with hydrogen in about 8 minutes (at least, at the two or three dozen
hydrogen stations in the entire country).
But this ultra-green car doesn’t have Prius-style timidity. It can hit 100 miles per hour and get to 60mph in 8.5 seconds—faster than Cadillac’s current crossover. And I believe those numbers. I got to drive the super-peppy Equinox around Vegas today and I was amazed at the whiplash acceleration. (Despite the defamation of electric motors by internal-combustion enthusiasts, motors are the ultimate sports car power plants—delivering high torque as soon as you hit the gas—err, accelerator.)
Of course, like GM’s other hydrogen cars, you won’t be buying a Provoq immediately. But you might do it pretty soon. GM hopes to be selling the Equinox by 2010 (in the first city or city that builds enough hydrogen refueling stations to make it practical.) No word yet on when the Provoq will hit driveways, but I sure hope it’s soon.—Sean Captain
More pics after the jump.
(Note the equaly hot Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid in the background.)
(Note the equaly hot Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid in the background.)
Very cool. Especially since this is powered by a real fuel cell and not the hydrogen powered internal combustion engine I've read about by a competitor. Can't remember who. Now that's the expense of H2 and the poor efficiency of a standard engine...
Posted by: Eric H | January 09, 2008 at 06:48 PM
check out the video on youtube
Posted by: serge | January 10, 2008 at 11:11 AM
The Hydrogen Combustion engine was on the BMW Hydrogen 7 series which as far as I know is the only serious attempt at such a ridiculous idea. Hydrogen combustion engines are much less powerful than equivalent gasoline engines and much much less efficient than a fuel cell at extracting hydrogen energy.
I'm really encouraged to see someone FINALLY put a solar panel on the roof of a car, you'd think this would have been one of the first innovations to follow hybrid technology. How about we turn parking lots into solar farms instead of disrupting precious natural habitats to do the same thing?
Posted by: Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 10, 2008 at 01:02 PM
Thanks - so that's who it was that had that lame hydrogen internal combustion engine. Probably just a PR attempt. Probably costed little to implement.
Posted by: Eric H | January 10, 2008 at 06:32 PM
And the solar panel produces what? 20 watts? Enough to power the interior lighting for a few seconds before you turn the car on. This thing doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Why waste all that green-ness making an SUV do 0-60 in 8 seconds? And I'm still unaware of the clean power source that we are planning to use to make the hydrogen. Maybe all those roof solar panels.
Posted by: Chris | January 11, 2008 at 12:10 PM
Chris, I can't find the exact specifications on the solar panel. Of course it's not going to be enough to power the vehilcle alone, but I'm sure it will contribute more than a few seconds of interior lighting. Also the quick acceleration is a result of the inherent ability of electric motors to output maximum torque at ZERO rpm. Since electric motors are much more efficient at translating energy into motion than combustion engines, it matters little what size motor or gearing you use or how fast you go, it takes NEARLY the same amount of energy to move the same amount of mass the same distance.
Posted by: Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 11, 2008 at 05:34 PM
Especially when you factor in regenerative breaking, you may as well go as fast as you can since most of that energy can be recovered when it comes time to slow down.
Posted by: Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 11, 2008 at 05:37 PM
Oh yeah, and everyone else already knows that the hydrogen economy will be pointless without solar. They're working on it dude, chill out.
Posted by: Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 11, 2008 at 05:39 PM
Almost forgot the interior lighting uses LEDs of course. 20 watts could power them for DAYS!
Posted by: Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 11, 2008 at 05:42 PM
Until we can develop a new energy source that doesn't rely on fossil fuels to produce that energy commodity, we're stuck with burning dead organic matter. The energy sector won't allow these technologies to advance in today's landscape, those who rule are living the high life on oil revenues. Who's going to give up their power.
Posted by: JohnGalt | January 13, 2008 at 12:53 PM
I would like everyone to review what watts, volts, and amps are. 20 watts is not a measurement used to say how long a light can be turned on.
If you have a 20 watt panel and a 20 watt light, the light will stay on as long as the panel is producing its full power. No sunlight no power.
I do agree that this new technology should not be focussed on SUVs.
Posted by: jeff | January 13, 2008 at 02:35 PM
Just to comment on the need to go 0-60 fast. GM has made breakthroughs in AC motors, back with the EV-1. That's what Tesla, AC Propulsion and others are building on as well.
The thing with AC motors is that larger means more efficient. It's not like the ICE engine where 12 cylinders is more powerful, but also less efficient than 4.
So, giving this thing sporty acceleration doesn't cost a thing in efficiency terms.
If you're driving 30 mph with a motor that's larger you'll actually get better mileage in an electric than driving 30 mph with a smaller motor.
If you want to limit speed to save energy that's better done with an electronic limit.
Posted by: Greg Woulf | January 14, 2008 at 11:09 AM
Thanks Jeff, You're right, the measurement of actual power/time is in watt hours (more commonly measured in kilowatt hours). So lets say you've got a 20 watt panel charging during a sunny 12 hour day you get 240 watt hours, and let's say 15 1.5 watt LEDs you get about 10 hours of use...
Posted by: Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 14, 2008 at 01:16 PM
Also wanted to mention that automotive companies are focusing on large vehicles because that's where the greatest IMPROVEMENT can be had. If you take a tiny car and make it a hybrid, you're not saving as much gas/carbon emission as if you take a huge SUV and give it the fuel economy of a 4 cylinder Camry, as is the case with the recent Tahoe hybrid.
Posted by: Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah | January 14, 2008 at 01:18 PM
Yes, oil companies are making huge profits because of the global commodity market. Prices are going up and demand is going up, but it is not going to last. Honda and Toyota are winning big in the hybrid market while US auto makers are playing catch-up, the only way US companies are going to take the lead is to one up Toyota and Honda in Hydrogen. I think the atmosphere is right automakers to put it out there. US Auto doesn't need to put it all out there at once. It doesn't matter if big oil isn't onboard. There is a ground swell starting. People are ready to do something; it will just take leadership to take that first step. I think big oil is in a golden age of rising prices, and high demand, but I don't think it will last. As soon as demand decreases from other technologies, they will either help develop emerging technologies, or buy the work of others to keep relevant in a changing world. They won't have a choice but to adapt or die out.
Posted by: AF California | January 14, 2008 at 06:44 PM
It's true that for the time being, we're probably going to have to burn something to produce the electricity that produces the hydrogen. But that means we can burn coal instead of oil, which makes us less dependent on foreign sources, and even if it's oil we burn, it might be more efficient than refining it to gasoline or diesel fuel (though there is the extra step now, oil-electricity-motion instead of oil-motion). Just make sure we have the next electricity source ready before the coal runs out!
Posted by: Bob | January 14, 2008 at 07:46 PM
Coal gasification technologies use chemical processes to convert synthesis gas (syngas), derived from coal directly to gaseous hydrogen or to other clean fuels that can carry hydrogen to fueling stations and other applications. The coal derived gas can also be converted to electricity even more effectively by stationary fuel cells connected to the power grid. The US has a 250 year reserve of coal.
Posted by: Al | January 15, 2008 at 11:07 AM
Something I would like to make mention of concerning the change from oil to alternative fuel in the not-so-distant future. It is true that the major oil tycoons of our time will need to adapt to the change of demand or die out, but there will be a need for oil as a fuel source for a very long time. If automobiles go from oil to alternative at a rapid rate, there will be a huge impact on fuel prices. Construction/Commercial/Industrial/Farming equipment will still depend on as much horsepower as possible, (That which can only be achieved through the use of organic fuel). It could already spell disaster for world economy if fuel prices shoot much higher than they already are. I think we still have a very long ways to go before alternative fuel sources and technologies can provide enough practical use to completely replace carbon fuels. I hope I live to see alternative fuels/technologies take the field.
Posted by: Plum | January 17, 2008 at 07:06 PM
I think the whole "hydrogen economy" idea is, for now, a pipe dream. The energy required to produce the hydrogen (and the resulting greenhouse gasses), the infrastructure required to transport it, and the need to carry it around in vehicles makes it terribly impractical. Not only that, but the range per volume you get from gaseous hydrogen is poor (unless you want to drive a rolling fuel tank) and extremely high pressure tanks for compressed or liquid hydrogen present significant safety issues (in addition to the additional energy required to compress or liquify the gas). Until there are some more major breakthroughs, I just don't see it happening.
I believe pure electrice vehicles are more doable at the moment. While range is still a problem, this can be overcome by using a battery exchange model, rather than the stop and recharge approach. When driving a long distance, you simply stop at a battery exchange station when needed and get a fully charged battery in place of your old one. The station recharges your old one and gives it to the next guy, and so on. Unlike the non-existent hydrogen infrastructure, it would be a relatively simple matter to convert an existing gas station into a battery exchange station. After all, they already have electrical power.
Posted by: Dave | January 22, 2008 at 11:21 AM
Dave: Your wrong, or uninformed on both points!
First, we DO have a viable method CURRENTLY and we have had it for atleast a couple years now to store large quantities of hydrogen in a SAFE and effective mannor. Its an alloy of some kind that will store a large volume of hydrogen gas, in a solid form -- No compression needed! Bet most of the people reading this have heard of it! There are a few other ways, but I'm tired and dont remember them all! There are currently 2 or 3 ways to store hydrogen on board a vehicle in a safe and productive mannor!
As far as your battery exchange ideas go, thats not likley to happen! First you can charge your OWN batteries in as little as 10 minutes, if your on a long trip your most likley going to spend atleast 10 minutes, going to the bathroom, streching your leggs, and buying another pot or two for coffee. The more you drive in rush hour, the longer that is likley to take (getting the coffee, not the batteries)
Second, a battery exchange is also bad for another reason, how do they know what batteries are good or now? batteries can and have been abused in a normal ICE, so why would you think this idea would work with multiple batteries that alot of uninformed comsumers are lilkey to abuse?
We have better battery technology, but I doubt that the manufacters or the government trust your average consumer to be responsable with/for them.
And most people dont go on long trips frequently, My longest regular trip as I live out in the boonies is about 70 miles one way to a 'bigger' store (excluding 7-11 ofcouse which charges too much) thats 140 round trip if I make no stops, I usually get coffee on the way there, and idle in the drive through waiting for my order, but this wouldnt even ad 1/10th of a mile electrically 'used' Unless I happen to be using every piece of equipment I have in my vehicle anways, and I seriously doubt my radio(ham, cb, and am/fm/cd), highbeems, and interior light could collectivly pull enough power to make a dent compared to what that engine would pull doing 50 MPH for roughly 1 mile.
Also, don't hold your breath for major auto makers to 'take the lead' If its too new to the public its too risky. They CAN make cheaper hybrids and cheaper EV's but there not sure if its profitable quite yet, so why invest so much money in it now, when technology is comming out at such a quick pace?
As far as the people betting on that solar panel.. Yeah there cool, yeah they help, but no there not going to solve the problem. Look into how much energy it takes to make one, and its usable lifetime. Now after you say its not 'that bad' look at the price tag to get a solar panel to run your fridge, heater, or AC! Because while all of those use electricity they don't use as much as an EV car does.
As far as the need for longer ranges for vacations, RENT A CAR, or rent a generator to tow with you. Your gallons used per mile wont be as great as you think it will be, but youl get there just fine.
My current car is soon to be VERY cheaply converted to an EV, instead of getting a new car, or fixing the engine. Im not doing it for the enviornment, I'm doing it because its financially sound. I can do this enough to get around town when I need to go from here in the boonies, and yeah I'll pay quite a bit up front but it wont bother me when we break $4/gal or $5! And just to make you people happy I'll take a few calculators appart and have it charge my cellphone battery!
READ MORE AND ASK WHY!
Posted by: Tom | January 25, 2008 at 01:40 PM
Very surprised to see an environmental friendly Cadillac. Unfortunately, it looks like GM's effort to improve the performance & green-ness of their cars might be too late. Had they started developing and building these vehicles 5 years ago, perhaps they could have avoided the possible bankruptcy that is being rumored these days.
Posted by: SLC Contractor | July 04, 2008 at 05:45 PM
Hey there I really enjoyed reding your blog and its good that people are getting the word out on this technology. PLease feel free to visit my blog http://run-your-car-on-water.blogspot.com/
Posted by: Run your car on water | July 20, 2008 at 07:23 AM
Finally a car after my own heart. It is alot of work doing conversions for cars. Frankly I prefer to just buy fuel efficient cars rather than having to convert it on my own.
Posted by: Mike | July 31, 2008 at 12:42 PM
Great news the design is also awesome! If I had the money I would buy one ;)
Posted by: John | August 01, 2008 at 04:20 PM
You can also visit my website http://hfcv.com for hydrogen cell video and news :)
Posted by: John | August 01, 2008 at 04:20 PM