Big Brother To Military’s Colorado ZH2
General Motor’s GM Defense Division posted a video of the Chevrolet Silverado ZH2, a heavy-duty version of the pickup powered by a next-generation fuel cell power system and advanced lithium-ion battery. The video was first shown last month at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting & Exposition.
Very Few Details
The video gives a brief look at the truck’s hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, which appears to feature front and rear electric motors. Stored between the frame rails are two of the three GM Defense’s Hydrotec 700-bar hydrogen tanks and a Jouletec lithium-ion battery pack. There’s also a glimpse of the truck’s “race proven multimatic dynamic suspension” for traversing desert hills and snowy and rocky landscapes.
GM Defense says the truck has a range of more than 400 miles. The fuel cell not only functions as a powerplant for the truck, it’s also a mobile water source, generating two gallons of water per hour as its only waste product. It also offers rapid recharging in just three minutes.
Based on renderings shown in the video, the exterior design draws heavily from the 2020 Silverado HD that was revealed earlier this year. The Silverado ZH2 sports tactical embellishments such as extra body cladding and slender LED cluster headlamps. In addition to the basic olive drab paint scheme, the military truck is shown wearing desert camouflage.
Smaller Military Colorado ZH2 Already Testing
If produced, the Silverado ZH2 would be at least the second military-specific pickup. The first was the smaller fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, which the U.S. Army started testing in April 2017. Co-developed by GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, the Army has been testing the Colorado ZH2 in off-road conditions, evaluating power generation, reduced odor, acoustic and thermal signatures.
Military testing has shown the ZH2 reduced acoustic non-detection distance by 90 percent compared with current military vehicles in operation, according to GM. This means the Colorado ZH2 can get 10 times closer before being detected, the company notes.
GM’s Hydrogen Future
It makes sense to use the military development angle to work on the hydrogen drivetrain. Military contracts could help offset the cost of developing consumer fuel cell vehicles while also providing the military with modern vehicles that meet the rigorous demands that are required.
GM has been pushing the envelope with its latest military-inspired creations, such as the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, or SURUS fuel-cell platform. It looks like a skateboard, offering flexibility in its uses, including off-road capability, autonomous driving and acting as a mobile power source.
GM and Honda last year announced plans to jointly build by 2020 more economical fuel cell stacks they developed together at GM’s Brownstown battery facility near Detroit. GM last fall said it planned to offer a fuel cell vehicle to retail consumers within five years, part of its plans is to add 20 new battery electric and fuel-cell vehicles globally by 2023.