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GM's hydrogen fuel cell truck to undergo US Army demonstration

14 December 2016
GM and US Army TARDEC are trialling a Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 fuel cell electric vehicle for potential military uses. Source: General Motors

General Motors (GM) and the US Army now have a running prototype of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on a Chevrolet Colorado truck, called the ZH2, company officials told IHS Jane's.

The vehicle, first unveiled on 3 October during the annual Association of the US Army symposium, is being jointly developed by GM and US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC), and is to undergo army testing in field conditions in 2017 to determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles for military missions.

The demonstrator vehicle was mostly assembled at GM's Advanced Vehicle Integration facility in Warren, Michigan, where TARDEC is also located.

Chris Colquitt, the senior engineering manager for ZH2, told IHS Jane's on 13 December that since it was unveiled, the vehicle has undergone various start up activities such as putting hydrogen in the tanks, charging the batteries, and turning it on and operating it at GM's Milford Proving Ground.

ZH2's propulsion was calibrated for a Chevrolet Equinox - the same power plant was used for a testing project with the Equinox - and engineers are now calibrating it with the Colorado's 4-wheel drive systems and other aspects.

In April GM will hand the vehicle over to the army, which is expected in May to start trialling it in different training missions across the country to experiment in varying terrains and roles, Colquitt said. GM and the army will collect subjective soldier feedback as well as objective technical data.

The ZH2 was built on a stretched midsize pickup chassis and is about 2 m tall and more than 2.1 m wide. It rides on 37-inch tyres and a modified suspension, GM and TARDEC said. An Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO) is integrated to allow the fuel cell to provide power for equipment beyond the vehicle itself.

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