Chevy Colorado ZH2 – a monster was unwrapped at an annual US Army association meeting by GM, which the Army will test in Michigan over the next year.
The US Army’s tank research center collaborated with GM to build the Chevy Colorado ZH2, which has a reinforced body that’s six-and-a-half feet tall and seven feet wide. The truck will chew up terrain with 37-inch tires and a special suspension built for off-road handling.
The ZH2 has a single motor that’s powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery. The advantage of that hydrogen fuel cell is that the only byproduct is water, and the electricity-powered engine is quieter than a traditional combustion engine. It also gives off less heat, which GM said would help the car in stealth situations, where the Army would want to reduce acoustic and thermal signatures. According to Wired, the ZH2’s hydrogen fuel cell produces two gallons of water an hour.
The truck also comes equipped with what GM called an “Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO)”—basically a 25kW battery that’s charged by the fuel cell and can be removed from the truck to power anything else.
Needless to say, the ZH2 won’t be found at your local dealership any time soon. This is a military research vehicle through and through.
The Army is leasing the truck from GM for a year to test at proving grounds in Michigan, where it will be evaluated for potential use in combat situations. By the end of 2017, the Army hopes to have a full picture of how well the truck performs with respect to wheel torque, fuel consumption, and water-byproduct quality.
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
Of course, the issue with hydrogen fuel cells has been the same for decades—although fuel cell vehicles take minutes to refuel, unlike battery-powered cars, hydrogen can be difficult to store without a high-pressure container or very cold temperatures. Wired notes that this may not be such a problem for the Army, as it could repurpose JP-8 jet fuel supply tankers to supply H2, or it could make hydrogen from the jet fuel itself.
Clearly, hydrogen supply issues aren’t stopping GM from building research vehicles. The Colorado ZH2 follows GM’s announcement of an Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV), which it built in partnership with the US Navy. That UUV is currently being tested in a pool for “weeks if not months of endurance” in underwater environments.