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AUSA 2018: GM develops next-generation ZH2 hydrogen fuel cell-powered truck

10 October 2018
GM's Silverado ZH2's chassis is shown with the company's next-generation hydrogen fuel cell powered engine at the front. Source: IHS Markit/Daniel Wasserbly

General Motors (GM) has developed a new 'ZH2' hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric truck, with a next-generation engine and a Chevrolet Silverado chassis.

The original ZH2 was based on a Chevrolet Colorado truck that had its front and rear changed to improve off-road mobility and host the power-generation and cooling systems. That fuel cell technology dated to 2007, GM officials told Jane's .

The Colorado ZH2 was trialled by the army's Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) over the past two years to demonstrate that hydrogen fuel cell technology in ground vehicles would be stable enough for possible military use. The truck's hydrogen fuel storage tank was shot with 7.62 mm standard, incendiary, and armour-piercing rounds. It was penetrated with a rocket-propelled grenade round but did not explode, GM officials told Jane's after the tests, because hydrogen explosions are difficult to sustain and hence relatively safe.

The ZH2 is capable of outputting 25 kW of continuous power and showed potential for users to capture the excess water that is a byproduct of the fuel cell's output.

The Silverado ZH2 is now also to be tested by TARDEC, Charlie Freese, executive director of GM's Global Fuel Cell Business, told Jane's at the annual Association of the US Army (AUSA) exhibition held from 8 to 10 October in Washington, DC.

The Silverado ZH2 can output up to 100 kW of power and host much heavier payloads, Freese said. The newer fuel cell technology and platform enable GM to keep all the systems under or within the vehicle's cab and within its chassis - unlike the first-generation Colorado ZH2, the rear of the platform is open to be used as a flatbed space or configured like a typical pickup truck.

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