General Motors unveiled the Cadillac Provoq, its plug-in hydrogen-electric fuel-cell luxury hybrid concept SUV, at the 2008 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. The din and decadence of a consumer gadget expo gone wild, set within the glittering lights of sin city, was the perfect setting for taking the wraps off the Provoq. (It’s presumably misspelled to be provocative, get it?)
The Cadillac Provoq is a concept vehicle, which shows little restraint in its vision of green car technology—and exhibits even less of a bearing on reality. But Las Vegas is about a fun and lots of it. So why not enjoy the excesses of the Cadillac Provoq the way you might get some thrills from the glitz and glitter of dancing girls in feathers and sequins, magicians, lion-tamers, and Wayne Newton.
The Cadillac Provoq uses the same eFlex architecture that was rolled out in early 2007 with the Chevy Volt. Actually, GM has been talking for many years about a plug-and-play vehicle architecture that can work with any power system or fuel source. GM uses this iteration as a platform for its fifth-generation fuel cell stacks, which the company says are half the size of its predecessor, but more powerful. The vehicle stores its hydrogen in two 10,000-psi composite fuel tanks mounted under the cargo floor—and its electricity in a lithium ion battery pack mounted under the rear seat. The two hydrogen tanks provide 280 miles of mobility, with the batteries providing 20 more miles of driving.
One charging port isn’t enough for its plug-in capabilities. The Provoq has His and Hers, left- and right-hand inserts incorporated into the front fender vents. A 70-kW motor is posted up front and two 40-kW motors are tucked in the rear wheel hubs.
In addition to the juice running in and out of the lithium batteries, capable of storing 9kWh of energy, solar panel integrated in the roof provide help to power onboard accessories and lights.
That’s not all. This SUV—which seats five and incorporates the “comfort, convenience and infotainment features Cadillac customers seek,” according to the press release—is aerodynamic. The drag on the massive Provoq is mitigated by front grille louvers that close at highway speeds, and open back up again at low speeds to cool the fuel stack. Other tricks to reduce air resistance are a sloping roofline, low-drag roof rack, an underbody cover, and even cute little tail fins. Twenty-one-inch wheels are covered in custom Michelin “Green-X” low rolling resistance tires.
The Provoq is obviously being used as a chance for GM to show off all its cute ideas—and as such, shouldn’t be taken too seriously by green-leaning car shoppers. Unless you want to think of the use of recyclable soy-based material in the Provoq’s interior as anything but a coy act of provocation—considering GM’s record on fuel efficiency and the environment.