One of the main attractions from SEMA 2016 in Las Vegas and the 2016 Army of the USA (AUSA) conference in Washington, D.C., has been GM’s hydrogen fuel-cell powered military truck – the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2. The truck is more than 6½ feet tall, more than seven feet wide and has a range of about 200 miles on a full tank of hydrogen.
“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.
The truck’s rear bumper, which is made with composites, holds the three large cylinders of compressed hydrogen fuel sitting between the frame rails, as well as the heat exchangers for the fuel-cell temperature and cabin climate control.
The ZH2’s three tanks, which contain four kilograms of hydrogen, are wrapped in multiple layers of carbon fiber and can withstand the impact of a .50-cal round according to Paul Rogers, director of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).
The vehicle will begin a year of rugged field testing in 2017.