Fact Checking the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel

I’m writing about this here simply because I have nowhere else to put it: In the course of writing about alternate energy sources for autos, I’ve found (what looks rather obvious from the outset) that the much-reported-upon nuclear-powered “World Thorium Fuel” vehicle from GM is not a real concept vehicle but merely a 3D rendering from this fellow.

Somehow numerous outlets have convinced themselves that the “WTF” (red flag, IMHO) was “unveiled” at a 2009 auto show, that a laser-and-thorium-powered car was “introduced” at said show, and that it means that “nuclear cars [are] not science fiction any more” (that from a New York Times contributor!).

They’ve all been duped.

It’s just amazing how reportage feeds upon itself. It’s like a game of telephone. In the beginning someone probably noted that a guy that’s really good with computers mocked up a highly implausible Cadillac. Somewhere along the way the facts got lost, and by the time it hit the mainstream the WTF was a real prototype that you could tool around with and which would last for 100 years without a fill-up. I have no idea how the detail about the Chicago Auto Show came into the picture, but hey, what’s a good lie without something that sounds legitimate to back it up?

Here’s what Cadillac said in response to my query, just for the record:

We did not produce that concept. It was rendered by a freelance designer as a creative/visionary exercise. I don’t have a lot of details on the how’s and why’s of its creation….it just sort of appeared. ¬†We’re pleased that our Art & Science design was inspirational…..but outside of that, we don’t really have a view on it.

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is a veteran technology journalist and the owner of Null Media, a custom blogging company.