One look at this Colorado, and you'd probably think it's just another off-road-ready concept strutting its stuff at this year's SEMA Show. But what you're actually looking at is a hydrogen-powered Chevy Colorado, designed for the United States Army to test the effectiveness of fuel-cell vehicles in battlefield scenarios. It's called the ZH2, and it's super cool.
As we reported previously, the Colorado ZH2 was created in less than a year; General Motors worked with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center to create this big brute. It rides on a stretched version of the Colorado platform, and rolls on huge, 37-inch tires that should pretty much clear anything in its path out in the field.
“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,” Charlie Freese, GM’s executive director of global fuel cell activities, said in a statement.
Since FCEV powertrains don’t make much noise, the Army thinks a so-equipped vehicle will be perfect for scouting in missions. Electric motors also provide instant torque, and lots of it, which should help this Colorado drive over just about anything. Even more interesting, the Exportable Power Take-Off system allows soldiers to remove the fuel cell from the vehicle, to have an electric power supply that’s mobile.
Following the ZH2’s internal testing by GM, this Colorado will be handed off to the U.S. Army for a year of field testing to determine its future purpose, if any. Check it out for yourself in the gallery below.
Photos: Nathan Leach-Proffer / Motor1.com
Gallery: Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Hydrogen Pickup
MISSION-READY CHEVROLET COLORADO ZH2 FUEL CELL VEHICLE BREAKS COVER AT U.S. ARMY SHOW
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.