Fuel cell Colorado on test
A militarily-modified Chevrolet Colorado, designated the ZH2, is the most off-road-capable fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle ever from General Motors.
This US Army test machine was revealed at the November 2016 meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA).
The powertrain consists of two electric motors, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell under the bonnet.n
Standing more than two metres tall, the Colorado ZH2 was built on a stretched chassis. Reinforced inside and out, the ZH2 rides on 37-inch tires and modified suspension that helps the vehicle climb over and descend demanding terrain.n
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 US Army will then test the Colorado ZH2 in extreme field conditions, to determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles on military missions.n
The Colorado ZH2 features an Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO) that allows the fuel cell to power electrical gear in locations where mains power isn’t available.
GM and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) collaborated to develop the Colorado ZH2 from contract to concept in less than a year.n
GM is leveraging a range of advanced technologies for multiple applications, including military.n
“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 – advances that drove us to investigate this technology further.”n
The Army is hoping to have validation of: 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 the operating range and water as a by-product for field use.n
GM and TARDEC have fuel-cell development laboratories located 30km apart in southeast Michigan. Most of the Colorado ZH2 was assembled in GM’s Advanced Vehicle Integration facility in Warren.
“The Colorado ZH2 is an 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.”
The Colorado ZH2 contract is GM’s second vehicle development with a US military branch announced this year. In June, the U.S. Navy unveiled a GM fuel cell-powered Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) that is currently in pool testing before eventual deployment. The UUV leverages GM fuel cell technology common with the Colorado ZH2, demonstrating the flexibility to power a range of mobile and stationary devices.n
GM has accumulated 4.9 million kilometres of hydrogen fuel cell testing via Project Driveway, a 119-vehicle fleet driven by more than 5000 people in an multi-year fuel cell experience program.n
Headquartered at the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Michigan, TARDEC is a major research, development and engineering centre for the Army Materiel Command’s Research, Development and Engineering Command and an enterprise partner in the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.n
TARDEC is the Nation’s laboratory for advanced military automotive technology and serves as the Ground Systems Integrator for all Defense Department manned and unmanned ground vehicle systems. With roots dating back to the World War II era, TARDEC develops and integrates the right technology solutions to improve current force effectiveness and provides superior capabilities for future force integration.