Cadillac Out to Beat Lexus to Zero-emission Luxury

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Detroit Jan 9, 2008; Kevin Krolicki writing for Reuters reported that General Motors, looking to regain momentum against Toyota, sees a chance to beat the Japanese automaker to market with the first zero-emission luxury car.

GM seized the spotlight at a technology conference this week to show off a hydrogen- and battery-powered Cadillac concept car designed to run up to 100 miles per hour while emitting only water vapor.

Executives said the Cadillac Provoq fuel-cell concept vehicle showed GM is serious about challenging Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand for sales to the growing number of wealthy buyers looking to make an environmental statement on the road.

"We think we'll be able to take back some of the ground that Toyota owns today," said Cadillac general manager Jim Taylor, part of a team of GM executives who unveiled the Provoq concept outside of the established circuit of auto trade shows.

Taylor said Cadillac had suffered in competition with Lexus in California and other markets because of Toyota's lead in developing fuel-saving hybrid variants and in becoming recognized as the environmentally sensitive choice.

"We've got a misperception -- particularly on the West Coast -- that we're not working on this, that we're not interested in this," Taylor said of GM.

GM's hope is that the fuel-cell powered Cadillac Provoq (pronounced "provoke") will challenge that view and build on the positive reception for the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid GM is rushing to market in another effort to beat Toyota.

The Volt and the Provoq are intended to run on GM's "E-Flex" architecture, a system the automaker is developing for a range of upcoming electrically driven vehicles.

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