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Hydrogen Chev Colorado may be going to war

GM partners with US Army for fuel-cell pickup development

Published: November 19, 2015, 8:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:28 PM

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Chevrolet Colorado

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Chevrolet Colorado teaser sketch

General Motors is enlisting the Chevrolet Colorado pickup in the armed forces, announcing a project to convert the midsized pickup to run on hydrogen for the U.S. Army.

GM has entered into a 1-year partnership with the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) to modify a Colorado to run on a commercial hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for military duty. For logistics, it helps that the two have hydrogen fuel research and development facilities located within close proximity of each other in Michigan.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology is important to GM’s advanced propulsion portfolio, and this enables us to put our technology to the test in a vehicle that will face punishing military duty cycles,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Fuel Cell Engineering activities.

The idea arises from the hydrogen electric drivetrain’s capabilities for low-end torque, which is useful in off-road environments, and exportable electric power and quiet operation, all of which are attractive characteristics for both commercial and military operations. The other attractive feature is that the only emissions from a fuel cell vehicle is water vapour.

“The potential capabilities hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can bring to the Warfighter are extraordinary, and our engineers and scientists are excited about the opportunity to exercise the limits of this demonstrator,” said TARDEC Director Paul Rogers. “FCVs are very quiet vehicles, on which scouts, special operators and other specialties place a premium. What’s more, fuel cells generate water as a by-product, something extremely valuable in austere environments.”

TARDEC aims to provide warfighter vehicles with advanced technological solutions to ground vehicle systems challenges. One of the centre’s areas of study is electrified armour, which would allow vehicles to save weight, integrate various armour technologies, allow diagnostics without having to remove armour panels, and even embed communications, radar detection and energy-harvesting technologies. A source of electric power without the need for battery storage, naturally, holds special interest in the development of such technology.

GM promises additional product details and vehicle production timing at a later time.