2016 Chevrolet Colorado ZH2
Nearly a month ago, we told you about General Motors’ partnership with the U.S. Military’s Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center to build and test a fuel cell vehicle for use in military operations. Well, GM has debuted its hydrogen-powered pickup and it’s called the Colorado ZH2.
As you can imagine, the truck is based on the Chevrolet Colorado. The ZH2 nomenclature is a play off the Colorado’s (or more historically, the S-10’s) off-road package, the ZR2. With its R swapped for an H, this hydrogen-powered truck is designed to test the capabilities and limits of a fuel-cell vehicle in off-road, wartime-style environments.
“Fuel cells have the potential to expand the capabilities of Army vehicles significantly through quiet operation, exportable power and solid torque performance, all advances that drove us to investigate this technology further,” said Paul Rogers, director of TARDEC. “Fuel cells have the potential to expand the capabilities of Army vehicles significantly through quiet operation, exportable power and solid torque performance, all advances that drove us to investigate this technology further.”
The speed Rogers is referring to is the time TARDEC gave GM to come up with this truck. From contract to concept, the project has happened in less than a year. That’s nearly light speed when it comes to government operations. From this point, the Colorado ZH2 will undergo a year’s worth of evaluation and demanding rigors to determine if hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have a future on the battlefield.
So what’s the big deal about fuel cell technology, you might ask? This propulsion system is nearly silent in operation, it offers a reduced thermal signature, has high torque thanks to its electric drive, offers low fuel consumption, and even creates water, which can be utilized in the field by soldiers.
There’s plenty to talk about here, so keep reading for the full run-down.
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Chevrolet Colorado-Based Fuel Cell Vehicle Will Be Revealed In October
General Motors is partnering with the U.S. Military’s Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center to build and test a
powered pickup for use in a military application. The pickup of choice, the Chevrolet Colorado, is currently under development and will be revealed sometime in October of 2016.
“Hydrogen fuel cells as a power source have the potential to bring to the force incredibly valuable capabilities,” said TARDEC Director Paul Rogers. “We expect the vehicle to be quiet in operation and ready to provide electricity generation for needs away from the vehicle. With fuel cell technology advancing, it’s an ideal time to investigate its viability in extreme military-use conditions.”
The joint project is designed to leverage innovation and next-generation technologies in the commercial sector at the request of the Department of Defense. Not only does the project help the military, it gives GM an investor to help fund its R&D on hydrogen fuel cell technology, which could eventually be used in passenger vehicles.
As for the military, a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain offers a number of benefits. For one, a fuel cell is far more efficient than gasoline and diesel internal combustion engines. Fuel cells are also inherently quite in operation, allowing for covert operations without noisy exhaust rumbles.
“This project is another example of how fuel cell propulsion can play a role in non-traditional applications,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Fuel Cell Activities. “We need to continue pursuing these opportunities along with our plans for production of a commercial fuel cell system in the 2020 time frame.”
We’ll bring you all the detailed information once GM debuts this Colorado Fuel Cell prototype in October.
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