Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 brings Fuel Cell Tech to US Army
On October 10th, 2016 General Motors revealed the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, a butch looking Fuel-Cell version of the Colorado. The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 was shown at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). This makes the ZH2, the most extreme off-road-capable fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle in GM’s history. To imposing stance of the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 comes from 6.5 feet height and 7 feet width. It was built on the stretched chassis of the Chevy Colorado which was reinforced inside and out. The pick-up moves on 37-inch tires and a specially modified suspension that enables it to tackle any sort of terrain. GM stats, US Army will be testing the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 (called Colorado ZH2) in extreme field conditions next year. This will be done to determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles on military missions.
It is to be noted that GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) have collaborated to develop the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2. The vehicle features an Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO) that allows the fuel-cell to power activity away from the vehicle. This feature can be used in remote locations where electric power may otherwise be unavailable. Both TARDEC and GM believe that Fuel cells have the potential to expand the capabilities of Army vehicles significantly. Fuel-Cells can operate quietly, export power and have great torque outputs. Thus, all these parameters led both parties to investigate this technology further. The US Army will be evaluating the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 on various parameters. Some of them are as follows:
- 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 operating range
- Water by-product for field uses
Testing of the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 is set to continue at GM’s Milford Proving Ground into early 2017. The car was mostly assembled in GM’s Advanced Vehicle Integration facility in Warren. After testing, the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 will be handed over to the Army for a yearlong field testing. Such a collaborated effort will be able to showcase the absolute limit of present day and age Fuel-Cell propulsion systems. GM has already accumulated more than 3.1 million miles of H-FC testing via Project Driveway. The Project Driveway is a 119-vehicle fleet driven by more than 5,000 people in a multi-year fuel cell experience program. With that sort of experience, GM is definitely a company worth taking the H-FC baton further.
It is to be noted that the H-FC tech even though being ready for the real world still has to be backed-up by related infrastructure. There are some benefits and drawbacks to a hydrogen-powered military vehicle. The most obvious benefit is its inherent stealth. Without lights turned off, the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 can creep along without the hum of a traditional gas or diesel engine. The water byproduct of hydrogen’s mix of water and oxygen could also be useful in desert climates. However, unfortunately, hydrogen fuel cells can’t be powered by readily available fuel sources and any mechanical issues will undoubtedly be harder to diagnose for an army engineer than a standard motor. If the American military were to make a switch to emissions-free vehicles down the road, it would need to train its maintenance staff for quick fixes.
The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 is powered by a 92kW Fuel-Cell capable of producing 174bhp. It is for obvious reasons, a four-wheel drive vehicle and all the power is managed by a single motor. And if it doesn’t sound much of a power to you, GM is already developing a motor for each tyre. This would take care of the power and versatility part without doubt. For those who think, what would become of this technology in the market, and then let us remind you that the Toyota Mirai, powered by the same H-FC tech is on sale currently. And then there have been mass produced H-FC cars from Hyundai as well in the form of the Santa Fe H-FC in Britain. The future is all Hydrogen Fuel Cell Folks, the saviour is coming.