Chevrolet debuts Colorado ZH2 fuel cell pickup

The Chevrolet ZH2 is a mid-sized pickup designed for the US Army. Image courtesy of GM.
The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 is a mid-sized pickup designed for the US Army. Image courtesy of GM.

US automaker Chevrolet has this week debuted a new hydrogen fuel cell pickup called the Colorado ZH2.

The vehicle, which is one of the company’s most advanced to-date, was built in partnership with the U.S. Army, as part of a program announced several months ago.

While based off Chevrolet’s existing Colorado mid-sized pickup, the new ZH2 vehicle features a reinforced chassis, modified suspension and 37-inch tires designed for off-road use.

Billed as the “most extreme” off-road vehicle ever produced by Chevrolet’s parent company General Motors, the Colorado ZH2 features a number of advantages unique to fuel cell vehicles.

These advantages include near-silent operation, as well as significantly reduced thermal signatures.

In addition, the hydrogen fuel cell drive contains an Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO) that allows the fuel cell to power activity away from the vehicle.

Combined, these features provide the ZH2 with significant utility in the context of military operations in remote regions.

“The Colorado ZH2 is a terrific 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.

This week’s unveiling of the ZH2 was the result of a year-long collaboration between GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

“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, all advances that drove us to investigate this technology further.”

With the vehicle complete, it will now enter a testing phase with the U.S. Army where it will be extensively trialed in order to ascertain the physical limits of this propulsion system.

Should these tests be successful, this kind of hydrogen fuel cell system could set the standard for future military vehicles in a post-oil age.