Chevrolet and the U.S. Army mean business with their newly unveiled military fuel-cell vehicle.
Dubbed the Colorado ZH2, the model builds off the Colorado. But it takes trucking to a whole other level. It looks like an intense desert monster in the photos.
It stands over 6.5 feet tall. It dominates at over 7 feet wide. Chevrolet stretched the midsize chassis from the Colorado to make these moments happen. The suspension got reworked for the large size and rough terrain. The heavy duty truck attaches to large 37-inch tires.
GM designed the model with a hydrogen fuel cell for its power source. The idea was to create a military grade vehicle that runs on unconventional fuel. Fuel cell vehicles run quietly and also fill the off-roading requirement by creating low-end torque. They can also provide a portable electricity source. An exportable power take-off unit allows electricity use away from the vehicle itself.
The U.S. Army will begin testing the model next year. It will put the ZH2 through extreme field tests to make sure it’s ready for action.
For one, it will be testing how quiet it is so the Army knows how well suited it is for watch operations. It will also see how the torque handles at all speeds and terrains. The fuel consumption will be measured. The Army will also test the convenience of using the fuel-cells water by-product for drinking.
“Over the next year, we expect to learn from the Army, the limits of what a fuel cell propulsion system can do,” says Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities.
GM partnered with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center less than a year ago. The fast turnaround shows the success of the project.
“Fuel cells have the potential to expand the capability of the Army vehicles significantly,” says Paul Rogers, director of TARDEC.
GM and TARDEC are working on the fuel cells in labs in Michigan. The assembling of most of the ZH2 takes place at GM’s Advanced Vehicle Integration in Warren.