back to article GM sees future: Cars and drivers full of booze

US motor heavyweight GM is determinedly presenting itself as a technological innovator ready to break with its old-school, big iron image. The car colossus' CEO, Rick Wagoner, has been giving speeches and briefings in recent days boosting his firm's efforts in development of new, greener prime movers and radical electronics. …


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  1. Colin Millar

    By the look of that

    Thye still haven't looked up "sleek" or "stylish" at GM design

  2. Ralph B

    Eco-Friendly Drunk Driving

    It'd be more fun to tank up with ethanol and take this for a spin:

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap electricity for Hydrogen production?

    Simple, nuclear fusion!

  4. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Down


    sorry, but it's all ultimately handwaving. you can shift the fuel source around as much as you like, the underlying fact is we don't currently have the technology and resources to allow everyone in the world to zoom around everywhere in their own little personal, individually powered transporter. fundamental imbalance in the energy budget, no matter how you produce, store or transport it.

    if someone manages to crack cold fusion soon, good-o! otherwise, someone's going to have to start writing stories about hydrogen powered *buses* instead. how come we never see any of those?

  5. Karl Lattimer
    Jobs Horns

    Nuclear hippies

    Bloody hippies are constantly going on about Nuclear energy being bad, then they concede that renewables will possibly manage half of our energy needs by 2050. I'm sick of hippies killing the world with their moral high ground. Nuclear is bad is only one of their fallacious arguments here are some others that might amuse;

    * The rainforests are the lungs of the earth man... No, they aren't, most of the oxygen on the planet is created by the Soylent in the oceans. Still protect the rainforest's because of the diversity of life, not their (inefficient) oxygen generation.

    * Microgeneration is the way ahead man... No, it isn't, microgeneration cannot hope to create the amount of energy required to run a home, its a DIY store scam to get you to buy plasticy inefficient generation kit - however the microgeneration stuff they use in india is quite effective, necessity being the mother of invention and all.

    * Climate change is our fault and we're killing the earth man... Climate change isn't at all our fault, if you look at a climate model which goes back hmm, I dunno, longer than the last few hundred years or so, you'll see that the earth is particularly cold at the minute compared to the average temperature over the last well, 100 million years or so. Climate change is only banded about at the minute because so many people are uninformed and scared, and yes the climate is changing... there's nothing we can do, once we hit tropical stability again it'll be OK for a while, then an ice age, then it'll be cold, then incremental rise to tropical again, ad infinitum or at least until the sun burns out or we nuke the planet.

    These are idiot misconceptions perpetrated by the hippies at green peace so they can alleviate the guilt they have for whatever they did wrong as a kid, killing frogs or something?

    I welcome nuclear, it means we burn less fossil fuels which is a good thing, not because of climate change but because of the non-renewable factor, and the cause of war factor. If we use nuclear to power fuel cells we're all better off.

    Of course, the realistic hopes for our future are things like; and Not pissy little windmills that turn about once a week.

    PS. Reg, can we have a smelly hippy picture? The closest I can get is steve jobs, but I don't think he smells... Actually get Richard Stallman, he smells (horrifically bad) and is a bit of a hippy!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Crap website with incomprehensible brochure.

  7. Brad
    Jobs Halo

    Good to hear the word getting out

    that hydrogen is shite. We could have batteries capable of long range travel in the time it takes to get these fuel cell bastards on the road, but the oil jerks would have none of that. A Tesla with GM's R&D would be on the road by now.

  8. Richard Gadsden

    Battery recharging

    Easy, instead of recharging the battery, have a standard design and swap your uncharged battery for a fully-charged one at a fuel station. Design it properly and the swap in/out is not much more difficult than refuelling a liquid-fuelled engine.

    The fuel station then has lots of batteries on charge and recharges your old ones - and charges you per battery.

    Each car would have several batteries, and would completely discharge one battery before starting on the next - that way you could arrive half-empty and just swap out the batteries that needed charging.

    Is it just me, or does this seem pretty straightforward?

  9. david

    @richard gadsden-

    step back from your idea for a moment, go out to your car, and pull the battery out of the engine compartment.

    heavy sucker, isn't it?

    and you're actually serious in proposing that people swap out the batteries at the charging station(the average electric car would need what, 20 batteries the size of car batteries, if not more?).

    now, imagine the backup and frustration when some petite woman goes to 'fill' her SUV.

    or worse, holiday weekends when everyone goes on a trip, and no stations have charged batteries(even if they only take a few minutes to charge with the new tech), because as soon as they're charged, some wanker goes and yanks them for his own car.

    really now, think before you open your mouth to let crap fall out.

  10. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up


    simple enough that it's already been proposed. several times. problem is that then you move from 'let's build an electric car!' to 'let's build at least a county's worth of infrastructure!', which doesn't make your bankers happy...

  11. tfewster

    ..running out of car names..

    Isn't the purpose of a concept car to "Provoq" discussion?

  12. Chris G

    Negative waves

    Are what seem most likely as a response to almost any `positive´idea exchangeable batteries may appear to be problematic but there is nothing problematical that can't be either solved or at least have the problems reduced by a bit of positive thinking.

    Lithium ion batteries for example have the best current weight to power ratio, they are extremely light, have no memory effect unlike nicads etc and have a relatively long life. So the idea is not crap, it just needs a little thought either way before anyone can say it's crap or an answer.

    As far as the article is concerned, the car companies or any one else who thinks methanol or ethanol is any kind of answer to our current problems must have their heads up their own arses. Both products produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide which, I was under the impression we were trying to reduce. So back to batteries, lightweight ones recharged by cuddly nuclear power would be one answer. Cold fusion in a jam jar would be another, we just have to keep looking at ALL of the possible answers and evaluate them fully before we discard them.

    Criticism is the first refuge of the unimaginative and untalented thats why any of can do it but not any of us can come up with workable solutions.

  13. Nexox Enigma

    Hydrogen vs batteries

    When all is said and done, batteries and fuel cells need input energy. That all comes from the same place - power plants. For now there are issues with both systems, but the fuel cell systems have the greatest potential, which is probably why they're getting all the development money right now.

    Even with fast charging, high capacity batteries (and those two qualities are typically mutually exclusive) your storage won't be nearly as efficient as you can get with hydrogen. The current methods for making hydrogen are something like 98% efficient, while rapidly charging batteries creates loads of heat, which is lost energy. Batteries then create more heat when they discharge.

    There are no fundamental limiting factors on the efficiency of a fuel cell, so with some reasonable development it should be able to push 90-95%. Hydrogen storage and transportation is an interesting one, since it has a nice tendency to diffuse through solid materials, but people are figuring that one out too.

    Batteries are expensive, bulky, heavy, environmentally damaging, hazardous, and inefficient. Plus they have a rather short lifetime. Theres no way that innovation will fix all of the problems with batteries. Fuel cells just don't have as many problems, and those that they do have can likely be solved in the next couple years.

    Really, though, just go back to worrying about where your elecricity comes from.

  14. Roger Brown
    Thumb Up

    start learning about horses; they've worked before

    Well, 'Provoq'' it did....mostly slinging stuff at each other.

    The fact is, there is no other power-source on earth that is as plentiful as petrol has been, as cheap to produce and buy, nor as powerful in any quantity. Nothing is going to replace it, and the faster we burn it off the quicker it'll be gone.

    Nuclear is a non-starter, as most people noticed in the 80s (though few appear to have learnt from) because we still have spent fuel-rods lying around in badly-maintained facilities that are, in most cases, slowly leaking into watersheds. These are still lethal, and adding more to the existing pile will only aggravate the situation.

    Sadly, the demise of petrol for the masses will not be like the demise of other resources; this one is going to change society on the grand scale.

  15. Steve Welsh

    booze prices sky-high

    Not if you have to hand a suitable culture of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

  16. Steve Welsh
    Thumb Down


    Then let them stay at home! Play with their children in the 10 acre yard of their McMansion.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Booze is the way

    Alcohol fueled cars will be the way forward. It'll be easier for us to find ways to increase the production of bioethanol than to get fusion working well to generate H2.

    We'll probably see big coils of plastic pipe filled with engineered algae out in deserts or in the sea happily generating alcohol.

    I have chosen Paris because this story involves alcohol and cars.

  18. Karl Lattimer

    @Booze is the way - bloody hippies again!

    there's another misconception the hippies put out...

    there is not enough actual land on the planet earth to create enough bioethanol to fuel all of the worlds cars, in fact there's probably enough land to fuel about 20% of existing cars, then you've got the problem of... WHERE DO WE GROW THE FOOD WE EAT!

    That and don't forget that palm oil production creates more carbon waste than a coal power station... and we'd end up chopping down the entire rain forest to try and accommodate production.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    only issue with hydrogen

    only problem with hydrogen as a energy transfer medium- it's damn hard to store it in sufficient quantity to be practical, without cryogenics. storing enough hydrogen to go say, 300 miles, without cryogenics, takes a fairly sizable tank right now.

    until we can solve that one, oil's still got the most bang for your volume, unfortunately.

    fusion would be awesome, but there's new challenges cropping up daily, so it'll be hard to pull off, if at all.

    unfortunately for the hippies, fission seems to be the best alternative. between modern recycling tech to cut down on waste(93 percent reduction) and modern design to boost safety(pebble beds are meltdown-proof), hey, that's lots of electricity for making your hydrogen. not to mention cheap power for your home, too.

  20. Arnold Marton


    Isn't it interesting that the features most people need--fuel efficiency, air bags, antilock brakes, traction control, even outside rear-view mirrors (for the people whose memory goes back about fifty years)--are provided first on vehicles the smallest number of people can afford?

    (Before you say it, as a concept car, the Provoq could have had any badge GM wanted to put on it. But I'm thinking about the items that have made it to the real world.)

  21. weirdcult

    @Karl Lattimer

    Here here sir!

    The planet will not be killed by our insignificant presence. The environment WE need to survive might though...

  22. Liam O'Flaherty

    @Karl Lattimer

    Actually, we see a VERY close correlation between increasing mean global temperatures and CO2 released into the atmosphere by human activity, primarily the meat industry...which leads me onto the MASSIVELY inefficient use of land for cattle rearing which could yield about 10 times more food for human consumption and yes, let the cows wander about and die naturally...

    If we manage to keep thawing the Northern ice cap and increasing the flow of very cold freshwater into the North Atlantic we could theoretically disrupt the Gulf stream's delivery of warm water to Eastern Europe which could have major effects on our Climate in this region, like converting the UK into a perennial Winter wonderland which I for one would not enjoy! I believe the research presented to me during the 4 years of my BSc Hon's Environmental Biology, via lecture format, to be rather accurate, but over what sort of time scale this could occur on I'm not sure.

    Why should we keep altering the state of the planet and threatening the future of many species that are sensitive to water temperature and salinity and many insect species (that we rely heavily on as pollinators) so that we can drive increasingly larger combustion engined vehicles and eat cheap burgers when we could invest our efforts in healthy foods and looking after the only home we have? Buggered if I know!

  23. Alexandre Strube

    Alcohol and flexfuel engines

    Saying that there's no land for produce alcohol is bullshit. 95% of the cars produced in the last 5 years in brazil are flexfuel, and alcohol-only cars exists there for 30 years.

    With gasoline prices going sky high, everyone there uses alcohol to fuel up their cars. And guess what? There's excess in production, which is being exported to US, given their recent interest on new energy sources.

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