You are here

Is this the US Army truck of the future?

The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 is bringing hydrogen fuel cells to the battlefield

This is Chevrolet’s Colorado ZH2, a hydrogen-powered SUV for the military that could bring zero emissions to a warzone near you soon.

Unveiled at a meeting of the Association of the United States Army, the ZH2 is being tested to see how fuel-cell technology can be used for a military application.

Based off a standard Colorado truck – though beefed up, stretched and decked out – it’s a monster, standing at over six feet tall and more than seven feet wide. The whole truck has been reinforced (inside and out) and sits on 37-inch rubber and trick suspension that helps allows it to scale pretty much anything that falls in front of it.

It’s also camo. And a slightly more effective camouflage paint job than the Ssangyong DMZ at that. Meaning if it can’t climb over something, the ZH2 can just hide in the bushes for a while before the baddies come.

Unfortunately, there are no specs on the hydrogen fuel cell or electric motors that make it move. But we know it is powered by one as under the bonnet there are plaits and plaits of scary-looking orange electrical wires cascading out of a silver box. There’s also a sci-fi looking box in the truck bed. That’s the Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO), a fuel-cell powered battery pack that can be removed from the car to power things in locations where there are no plugs. The modular cell provides up to 25kW of continuous electricity, but for how long we don’t know. Either way, handy if your iPod runs out of juice mid-shelling.

There are a few benefits of having a hydrogen car in the field. Primarily because it can scuttle around silently and sneak up on people. It also doesn’t get as warm as a conventional car so doesn’t leave such a massive thermal footprint for heat-seeking missiles to sniff out. And the electric motors provide massive torque to scale things while using less fuel. Oh, and because the only waste product is water, if you get thirsty you can suckle from the exhaust tip in the heat of battle.

As you can see, there are no massive concept flourishes on the inside – just some four point harnesses, bucket seats and a strut brace. Other than that, it’s business as usual: a black plastic cavern complete with cup holders big enough to swallow a giant Slurpee.

But infrastructure is always the thing holding hydrogen back. Warzones aren’t known for their hydrogen filling stations, and given that there are currently just three filling stations in the UK capable of delivering hydrogen at 700bar of pressure, we can’t imagine outside Camp Shorabak is next on the list.

Still, it’s encouraging to see that the US Army hasn’t written the technology off just yet. Will the Willys Jeep of the future be hydrogen-powered? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Share this page: 

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content