General Motors unveiled the most extreme off-road-capable fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle ever at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) yesterday.
The Chevy Colorado ZH2 was built on a stretched midsize pickup chassis that stands 6½ feet tall and more than seven feet wide. With 37-inch tires and a specially modified suspension, the vehicle is expected to handle many different terrains.
The joint venture between GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) was able to develop the truck in less than a year from when the contract was assigned.
Despite the contract being less than a year old the relationship between GM and TARDEC began almost four years ago. They began working together in Michigan based fuel cell research facilities that were about 20 minutes apart, according a news release by Automotive World.
They “provided some of their test facilities to us and integrated them into our laboratories,” said Paul Rogers, director of TARDEC. “The speed with which innovative ideas can be demonstrated and assessed is why relationships with industry are so important to the Army.”
“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,” he said.
In January, the Army will begin testing the Colorado at at Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, and Quantico. Over the next year the Army will evaluate the vehicle’s silent operation, low fuel consumption, and high wheel torque which is exclusive to its electric drive.
The vehicle is far from being a combat vehicle though. It has little to no armor and would not withstand an I.E.D -which is necessary for it to be considered a combat-ready vehicle.
According to Rogers, the stealth features would be most appropriate for Special operations conducting reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition missions.
The Colorado ZH2 contract is GM’s second vehicle development with a U.S military branch announced this year.
Earlier this year, GM developed a fuel cell-powered Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) for the Navy.
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