For one, its exhaust can quench a soldier’s thirst.
When Chevrolet debuted the Colorado ZH2 in collaboration with the US Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, it was easy to see, even from the initial release of a silhouette image, that the vehicle had little resemblance to the truck that donated its body for the cause. According to Chevy, that’s because the ZH2 required so many alterations in order to meet the military’s requirements that its body had to change to accommodate the upgraded hardware.
The US Army is using the ZH2 to test the viability of hydrogen fuel cells in combat, which have advantages including stealthy operation, the ability to double as power generators, electric torque available from any RPM, and clean drinking water coming out the tailpipe. The military will test the ZH2 in desert situations, requiring that it have a large ground clearance and travel for the shocks. Because of these needs, GM engineers pushed the bed back 125 mm to fit 37 inch off-road tires. The massive power dome at the front houses a transversally mounted fuel cell stack while the squinty front fascia is enabled by having the rugged cooling hardware moved to the rear where it will facilitate energy production even when the ZH2 is sitting stationary in a hot climate.
The juice generated by the fuel cell can be used to power a workstation, communications equipment, or even a small field hospital. The intakes on the bed’s clamshell cover feed a network of radiators, which benefit from their placement behind the roof by sucking up less dust than if placed behind the grille. Interestingly, Chevy neglected to place the electric motors at the wheels. Instead torque is fed into a transfer case that sends power to all four wheels with front and rear locking differentials. Some of the ZH2’s highlights include a 12-inch ground clearance, a top speed over 60 mph, and the ability to ascend, decend, and restart on a 40 percent grade. Early 2017 will see the military’s testing facilities interrogating the ZH2.