By now, you’ve surely heard, seen or read about the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, the fuel cell-powered truck being offered up for U.S. Army testing. But, Chevrolet had a surprise for the 2016 SEMA Show: it publicly revealed the truck for the first time.
The Colorado ZH2 will be employed by the U.S. Army in early 2017 for evaluation and testing of fuel cell powertrains. There are multiple benefits of fuel cell technology in the battlefield, including its lower heat signatures and overall quietness.
Chevrolet will use its time at the 2016 SEMA Show to “gain customer feedback on ZH2’s pairing of a clean, efficient propulsion system and capable off-road technologies.”
“The ZH2 integrates the strong foundation of the Colorado midsize pickup architecture with GM’s advanced hydrogen fuel cell propulsion technology,” said Jim Campbell, vice president, Chevrolet Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It combines the lessons Chevrolet has learned during 3.1 million real-world miles of testing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. It also reflects our commitment to expanding Chevrolet’s performance envelope off-road.”
Engineers spared no expense when developing the Colorado ZH2. With a road-going Colorado as the base, the cab was pushed back 125 mm to accommodate the massive 37-inch, off-road tires. Up front, a “power dome” is incorporated to fit the fuel cell stack, and cooling procedures were moved to the rear to help regulate temperatures while exporting electric power in a stationary, hot environment.
Under the clamshell sits the EPTO, or Exportable Power Take-off unit. This allows the Colorado ZH2 to draw high-voltage D/C from the fuel cell and convert it to both high- and low-voltage A/C (240V or 120V). The EPTO unit delivers 25 kW continuously or up to 50 kW peak. The system can power a subdivision, tools at a worksite, communications equipment or a small field hospital for hours. It provides power where electricity would normally never be found.
As for its off-road capability, the Colorado ZH2 will have no issues. Chevrolet designed the chassis specifically for off-road use. 236 lb-ft of instant torque is sent to the transfer case and a 4-wheel drive system with front- and rear- electronic locking differentials. Proprietary damper technology also provides body control for trail running and expanded wheel travel for rock crawling.
If customer feedback is positive, which we think it has been judging by responses, these new technologies could one day find themselves in a civilian vehicle. As for now, though, we’ll make do with a production, 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 coming very, very soon.