General Motors and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, aka TARDEC, have revealed the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 fuel cell electric vehicle. It’s claimed to be a concept that mates fuel cell technology and its advantages of on-board water production, exportable electric power and near silent operation, with extreme off-road capability.
GM and TARDEC developed the Colorado ZH2 contract to concept in less than a year. Who paid for what was not specified, but it certainly wasn’t Donald Trump’s non-tax dollars.
The U.S. Army will test the Colorado ZH2 in extreme field conditions next year to determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles on military missions.
At more than 6.5 feet tall and more than seven feet wide, the Colorado ZH2 is hardly a stealth vehicle. ZH2 was built on a stretched mid-size pickup chassis. Reinforced inside and out, the ZH2 rides on 37-inch tires and a modified suspension that helps the vehicle negotiate rough terrain.
The Colorado ZH2 has an Exportable Power Take-Off unit that allows the fuel cell to power activity away from the vehicle in remote locations where electric power may otherwise be unavailable.
“The speed with which innovative ideas can be demonstrated and assessed is why relationships with industry are so important to the Army,” said Paul Rogers, director of TARDEC.
Army Evaluations of ZH2
Does the Concept Really Have?
- Near-silent operation enabling silent watch capability
- Reduced acoustic and thermal signatures
- High wheel torque at all speeds via electric drive
- Low fuel consumption across operating range
- Water by-product for field uses
GM and TARDEC have fuel cell development laboratories located 20 miles apart in southeast Michigan. Most of the Colorado ZH2 was assembled in GM’s Advanced Vehicle Integration facility in Warren. Calibration testing at GM’s Milford Proving Ground will continue into early 2017, when the vehicle will be turned over to the Army for a year of field testing.
The Colorado ZH2 contract is GM’s second vehicle development with a U.S military branch announced this year. In June, the U.S. Navy unveiled a GM fuel cell-powered Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) that is currently in pool testing before eventual deployment. The UUV leverages GM fuel cell technology common with the Colorado ZH2, demonstrating the flexibility to power a range of mobile and stationary devices.
GM has accumulated 3.1 million miles of hydrogen fuel cell testing via Project Driveway, a 119-vehicle fleet driven by more than 5,000 people in a multi-year fuel cell experience program. In typical GM fashion of sitting on breakthroughs, no fuel cell vehicle is in public hands. See Fuel Cell Pricing Wars – 2017 Hyundai Tucson, Toyota Mirai