It is the most physically imposing and extreme fuel-cell-powered EV in the world. I am talking about the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Concept which was unveiled during the recent Association of US Army (AUSA) exposition held in Washington, D.C. It is the brainchild of the partnership between General Motors and the U.S. Army’s Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).The partnership is aimed at exploring hydrogen technology and how it can be applied for military use.
If adopted, the vehicle will greatly transform the face of the U.S. military, which has a “one fuel” battlefield strategy since 1986. The strategy poses that every vehicle in a combat should be running on the same type of fuel. As such, in future, all U.S. military vehicles may run on hydrogen fuel.
Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Concept Exterior
The 2016 ZH2 concept is a huge macho truck from whichever direction you look at it. The only resemblance with regular Colorado trucks is its center cab. The front fascia has a subtle similarity with Colorado trucks. The grille and headlights have a subtle resemblance of the regular Colorado models. The concept features narrow slats on the grille and a squinty design of the headlights that is not available on your regular Colorado.
There is a gigantic power bulge on the hood that helps to accommodate the fuel cell power-plant. On the other hand, the bumper features LED lighting units and a recovery winch. There are also D-ring shackles that are adopted from the discontinued Hummer H3. At the top most part of the front after the windscreen is a light bar with LED light pods.
From the first glance, you can tell how tall the model is, the height is enhanced by its huge ground clearance courtesy of the modified suspension and its giant wheels wrapped in 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires. The model features running boards just under the doors to help soldiers step in easily. The boards are also meant to protect the body from desert debris.
At the rear, the vehicle features a small compartment to store dirt clothes and bulky items. Under this compartment is a space for a power converter. This helps soldiers to convert the Colorado to a mobile power supply to run other equipment while on the field. It also comes with D-ring recovery points painted in red as well as a two-inch receiver hitch.
Dimension-wise, the Colorado wheelbase stretches 11.1 feet long that falls between standard and long-wheelbase of the regular Colorado trucks. The truck is a whopping 7 feet wide and stands at a height of 6.5 feet. It has an approach angle of 48 degrees and a departure angle of 39 degrees, which makes its suitable for the unpredictable desert terrain. Finally, the model weighs a whopping 6,038 pounds, 1,200 pounds more than a standard Colorado 4X4 diesel truck. The exterior styling is finished off in Army camouflage paint
Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Concept Interior
Unlike the exterior, the cabin of new Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Concept looks similar to what we are accustomed to in regular Colorado trucks. To start with, the model comes with the same dashboard and regular door panels. However, the truck features Recaro racing seats at the front. For enhanced support, the seats feature Simpson harnesses that are tied to the B-pillar-mounted bar for extra support. Its floor is covered with full-coverage mats.
Its gauge cluster features a KW output whose figures should be multiplied by 10 to get real output at a given time. Its output can reach as much as 160 kW in the field. It also comes with two toggle switches; one operates the front differential while the other operates the rear locking differentials. The switches work independently. The model also features a two-speed transfer case that is electronically controlled. These two features will help the model conquer just about any terrain.
Other features look stock. There was no pressure to add more features as this is not your regular road-going truck. It is purposefully made to help in the battlefield and other army operations where funky gadgets are not needed.
Engine and performance
The Concept’s power-plant is still being refined and the automaker did not reveal much about it for security reasons. However, the engine will feature an “Exportable Power Take-Off” (EPTO) unit. This unit enables the fuel cell system to power other activities apart from the vehicle itself in situations when other power sources are nonexistent or not tactically viable.
Unlike noisy engine-powered automobiles and generators, the fuel cell stack is paired with a huge synchronous AC motor that channels power to all wheels. The system does not produce any sound making the truck quite advantageous in stealth army approaches. Its low thermal heat signature minimizes chances of being detected by the enemy’s FLIR system.
Away from its stealthy approach capability, the model’s electric motors give the truck instant torque for superb acceleration on short notice and an awesome off-road climbing capability. In addition, the byproduct of the fuel cell system is environment friendly. Actually, it produces water that is hard to come by in a desert thus adding another technical advantage to soldiers. When a soldier gets thirsty, all he/she has to do is just step out of the vehicle and take a refreshing sip from the revitalizing water from the truck’s exhaust system, so cool, isn’t it?
We will update you with more information, one the GM makes it available.
Price and release date
GM has not said anything about the beast’s prices or release date. However, considering it’s a military concept vehicle the price of the initial concept may be in millions. However, I expect the price to fall significantly if the, military contracts GM to build production models.
The automaker is set to hand over three testing mules to the Army in April next year for field-testing at Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Carson Colorado and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.