Chevrolet has unveiled the Colorado ZH2, billed as ‘the most extreme off-road-capable fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle ever from General Motors’.
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.
“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 that enables silent watch capability, as well as reduced acoustic and thermal signatures. Evaluations will also look at the high wheel torque at all speeds via electric drive as well as the ZH2’s low fuel consumption across operating range. Investigations will also look in to the feasibility of using the 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.”