Is the Cadillac Provoq a Sham?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
is the cadillac provoq a sham
According to Cadillac, the Provoq is "a petroleum-free, hydrogen-powered vision of future luxury transportation." In fact, the official press release proclaims that "The concept can drive 300 miles (483 km) on a single fill of hydrogen – with 280 miles (450 km) from hydrogen and 20 miles (32 km) on pure, battery electric energy. A pair of 10,000 psi (700 bar) composite storage tanks beneath the rear cargo floor hold 13.2 pounds (6 kg) of hydrogen to feed the fuel cell stack, located under the hood. There, hydrogen mixes with oxygen to generate electricity – up to 88 kW continuous power. A lithium-ion battery pack can store up to a total of 9kWh of electrical energy and also provides a peak of 60 kW of power for additional performance." All this despite the fact that the Concept doesn't have any hydrogen-related parts whatsoever. So I rang-up Pete Barkey of GM Powertrain Communications and asked if GM has any intentions of building a Provoq Concept with a hydrogen engine. "I cannot tell you either way right now." David Caldwell of Cadillac Communications also pointed out that the press release uses a small "c" (concept) rather than a capital "C" (as in Provoq Concept). Both gentlemen also admitted that the numbers cited were entirely theoretical. Fair enough? Click here for more TTAC photos of the Cadillac Provoq Concept[Reported by Sajeev Mehta and William C. Montgomery]
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4 of 19 comments
  • Mcloud1 Mcloud1 on Jan 16, 2008

    I am in a program with GM, and as a result, I saw this car when it was still being prepped by GM for the auto show at the Warren design center. Not only does it not have any powertrain, but it is nothing more than a clay mockup. I know what because I was literally standing one foot from it when they were still putting the skin on. I know that they told me to not take any pictures of what I saw there, but they never said anything about telling what I saw. Nice one, GM.

  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Jan 16, 2008

    As somebody already pointed out, very few concept cars have a real powerplant. And many of them have been clays--nothing at all unusual about that. There are a variety of reasons why car companies all over the world build concept cars, and only one of them (for a few concept cars) is to display something that will actually be built. That's rare, so let's not be naive about the Provoq.

  • Tankd0g Tankd0g on Jan 16, 2008

    Is it common for a company to quote such specific number of something they only every built a carboard cut-out of?

  • Frank Williams Frank Williams on Jan 17, 2008

    The difference between what "concept cars" used to be and what they are now is their purpose. In the past, concepts were used to hint at future styling or show features the manufacturer was thinking about putting into production. Yes, some of them had non-existent powerplants but that wasn't the purpose of the vehicle. They were either flights of fancy or styling exercises.

    Today concept cars are being used by manufacturers to try to cop green creds and show how much they love the environment. The sole reason they're out there revolves around the powertrain. When a manufacturer sends out a press release extolling the virtues of a concept car's powerplant - right down to the power output and fuel mileage - and it has a cardboard replica (or nothing at all) where the engine should be, it hurts their credibility. Add in wording like "the concept has (whatever engine)" or "the concept can drive can drive 300 miles (483 km) on a single fill of hydrogen," that implys the thing really can do it when it's just an engineer's pipe dream.

    If they said "the concept should" or "it will have whatever powerplant," or words to that effect indicating it's still in the planning stages, that would be fine. But when their press release makes it sound like it's ready to drive away under its own power and then they roll out a clay model, they've lost me completely.