Since early 1986 the U.S. Military has a new operational protocol called - “one fuel” battlefield strategy -which means every vehicle in a combat situation runs on the same fuel. They determined this fuel is JP8, a diesel fuel similar to that used in jet engines (JP-Jet Propellant). General Motors is trying to pitch “Fuel Cell” over military’s long-standing policy of JP8. They are stating that the fuel cell power, which is primarily hydrogen, the basic ingredient in fuel cell electrical generation, can be collected from a variety of sources, including diesel fuel. To prove this theory to the US. Military, they started to work on a vehicle. They wanted to expand upon an already proven strong vehicle, Colorado. It’s a great all around vehicle to have in your stable. They badged this model of Colorado as ZH2. You cannot buy one of these at your local Chevy dealership, but you'll know eventually, all, if not some of the new technologies will be applied to your civilian vehicles in the near future.
The Colorado ZH2 is a demonstration vehicle that will be tested by the U.S. Army this year to evaluate the effectiveness of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered off-road vehicle in mission settings. GM worked with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center to develop the off-road, fuel cell-powered vehicle. The ZH2 integrates the strong foundation of the Colorado midsize pickup architecture with GM’s advanced hydrogen fuel cell propulsion technology. The vehicle combines the lessons Chevrolet has learned during 3.1 million real-world miles of testing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. To prove the benefit of this fuel type and to solidify their claim, they militarized the vehicle in Army camo paint with off-road suspension, 11.8 inches of ground clearance, and 37-inch knobby tires on bead-lock wheels. Beneath the hood is a GM fuel cell providing electricity to a big synchronous AC motor sending thrust to all four wheels.
To test and prove the new vehicle and it’s proposed technologies Chevrolet developed a new off-road test areas at General Motors’ Yuma, Arizona Proving Ground. The Yuma Proving Ground is located Located on the US Army military proving ground and artillery range, on 2,400 acres of land in southeastern Arizona and has 75 GM employees and 40 contractors. Opened in 2009, Yuma features a range of tracks, laboratories and courses. The new courses feature a high-speed desert sand trails; low-speed, loose river rock crossings; and steep, technical hill climbs and descents. Yuma Proving Ground’s new off-road course will play a key role in developing future Chevrolet off-road performance technologies and vehicles.
The facility includes:
- 3.5 mile Circle Track (3 lanes)
- 1.4 mile Straight Track (2-3 lanes)
- 3.1 mile Ride Road (2-4 lanes)
- 1,000’ X 1,000’ Dynamics Pad
- Interior Noise Road
- Noise Pass-by Facility
- Misc. Grades
- 72,000 ft 2 Main Building
- Garage (40 Hoists)
- Office (120 Residents/Visitors)
- Product Electronics/Instrumentation Lab
- Alignment/Tire Facilities
- Transmission Build Room
- Machine/Fab Shop
- Parts Crib
- Warehouse 14,000 ft^2
- Sundrella (40 hoists)
- Covered Parking
- Fuel Facility
- Car Wash
- Scale House / Ballast Station
The ZH2 shares several components with the production Colorado, including the cab, doors and roof. The standard Colorado production cab was moved back 125mm to accommodate 37-inch off-road tires.
At the front, the ZH2 hood incorporates a power dome to accommodate a transversely mounted fuel cell stack. The front fascia is a dramatic departure from the production truck. Cooling was enhanced and moved to the rear to help regulate temperatures while exporting electric power in a stationary, hot environment.
The bold appearance of the Colorado ZH2 was driven by the packaging requirements for the fuel cell system, stationary power generation and chassis hardware necessary for off-road performance.
At the rear, the ZH2 features a clamshell cover that integrates air intakes feeding radiators honeycombed behind the rear doors. Moving the air intake near the roofline lessens the amount of dust and dirt ingested into the radiator during extreme conditions.
The clamshell also houses the Exportable Power Take-off (EPTO) electric power conditioning unit. This allows the operator 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.
The hood, front fenders, rear fenders and bed hatch are fabricated from carbon fiber with Kevlar reinforcements for maximum strength and impact resistance. The ZH2 also features a custom 30-inch LED light bar, custom turn signals, and 7-inch front headlights.
Proprietary chassis designed, engineered and tested by Chevrolet
The chassis was designed and engineered for off-road use. It starts with 37-inch BF Goodrich tires mounted to 17-inch beadlock wheels. Power is transferred from the 93 kW fuel cell system to the 132-kW electric motor, which produces 236 lb.-ft. of instantaneous torque. That torque is then delivered to the transfer case and a 4-wheel drive system with front- and rear- electronic locking differentials.
Off-road performance is further enabled by proprietary damper technology that provides body control for trail running and expanded wheel travel for rock crawling. Technical details about the dampers will be released later.
Calibration testing and validation are currently underway, and the Colorado ZH2 is expected to be a truly capable off-road vehicle featuring:
- 12 inches of ground clearance
- 48-degree approach angle and 39-degree departure angle
- Top speed above 60 mph
- Ability to ascend, descend and restart on 40 percent grade
- 20 percent side slope capability
Other ZH2 specifications include:
- 6:1 gear ratio
- 6,038 lbs. curb weight (estimated)
- 7,338 lbs. GVWR (estimated)
- 133.5 in. wheelbase
- 67.4 in. track width
- 210.5 overall length
- 79.8 in. overall height
- 84.5 in. overall width (including mirrors)
- 80.3 in. overall width (tire-to-tire)
- 35 in. front overhang
- 42 in. rear overhang
- 25 ft. curb-to-curb turning radius
Military Grade Credentials
The SEMA show enables Chevrolet to gain customer feedback on ZH2’s pairing of a clean, efficient propulsion system and capable off-road technologies. The ZH2 also represents an opportunity to demonstrate this technology under the mission requirements of the U.S. military, among the world’s most demanding off-road operators.
“The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 is part of a multiyear cooperative partnership between GM’s engineering team and the U.S. military,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Fuel Cell Business. “We are putting the ZH2 to work on Army bases around the country, and it will be in the hands of real-world war fighters.”