The Army thinks FCEVs might be perfect for scouting the battlefield because they're so quiet.

The United States Army wants to know how hydrogen fuel cells perform on the battlefield, and General Motors is working with the military on this rugged-looking, custom Chevrolet Colorado. Dubbed the ZH2, this midsize pickup ditches the usual internal combustion engine in favor of a removable fuel cell. Testing begins next year.

GM worked with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center to develop the ZH2 in less than a year. The mean machine looks ready for a fight, too. It uses a stretched version of the Colorado platform. An upgraded suspension makes rock crawling easier, and the 37-inch tires should climb through anything.

The most interesting part for military use might be the Exportable Power Take-Off. Soldiers could drive the truck into the wilderness and then remove fuel cell for a supply of electricity where it usually isn't available. 

Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Fuel Cell Vehicle
Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Fuel Cell Vehicle
Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Fuel Cell Vehicle

GM will work on calibrating the vehicle at the Milford Proving Grounds until early 2017. Afterward, the truck’s work will really begin because the automaker will hand the Colorado ZH2 over to the Army for field testing. “Over the next year, we expect to learn from the Army the limits of what a fuel cell propulsion system can do when really put to the test,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities.

The Army wants to evaluate how the traditional advantages of a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) apply in combat. Specifically, these powertrains don’t make as much noise as an internal combustion engine, which might make them perfect for a scouting role. They also produce less heat and that could make an FCEV more stealthy on the battlefield. The electric motors are also great for crawling through rocky terrain because of their high torque with immediate availability. Finally, the vehicle could retain the water vapor emissions, and soldiers might be able to use the liquid in the field.

U.S. Navy unmanned undersea vehicle

GM is also working with the U.S Navy on a fuel-cell powered underwater drone (above).The goal is to eventually create one that can last for over 60 days at sea without needing a recharge. According to the automaker, the vehicle is currently testing in a pool and would eventually go into the ocean.

Source: General Motors

Gallery: Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Fuel Cell Vehicle

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Modified midsize pickup goes into extreme military field testing in 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The physically imposing Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, the most extreme off-road-capable fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle ever from General Motors, was revealed today at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA).

Standing more than 6½ feet tall and more than seven feet wide, the Colorado ZH2 was built on a stretched midsize pickup chassis. Reinforced inside and out, the ZH2 rides on 37-inch tires and a specially modified suspension that helps the vehicle climb over and descend all manner of terrain.

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.

The Colorado ZH2 features an Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO) that allows the fuel cell to power activity away from the vehicle, such as remote locations where electric power may otherwise be unavailable.

GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) collaborated to develop the Colorado ZH2 from contract to concept in less than a year.

GM is leveraging a range of advanced technologies for multiple applications, including military.

“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. “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 Army will evaluate the ZH2 fuel cell for:

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 is a terrific example of GM’s engineering and design skill in creating an off-road vehicle relevant to a range of potential users,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities. “Over the next year, we expect to learn from the Army the limits of what a fuel cell propulsion system can do when really put to the test.”

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.

About General Motors

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at


Headquartered at the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Michigan, TARDEC is a major research, development and engineering center for the Army Materiel Command’s Research, Development and Engineering Command and an enterprise partner in the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. TARDEC is the Nation’s laboratory for advanced military automotive technology and serves as the Ground Systems Integrator for all Defense Department manned and unmanned ground vehicle systems. With roots dating back to the World War II era, TARDEC develops and integrates the right technology solutions to improve current force effectiveness and provides superior capabilities for future force integration. More information can be found at