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Chevy Colorado ZH2 FCV receives 'positive' feedback from Army

by Justin King

The pickup is said to require 16 seconds to reach 60 mph, but the military appears more interested in its dual role as a quiet electricity generator for other equipment.

The US Army has continued testing the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, putting the fuel-cell pickup to use in several environments from Florida to the Rocky Mountains.

General Motors suggests the FCV's near-silent operation, reduced thermal signatures and high-torque electric drivetrain could be useful for an off-road tactical vehicle. As an added bonus, the powertrain doubles as a generator that can quietly power other gear.

"The feedback is positive so far," Army engineer Brian Butrico told The Gazette.

The pickup is said to consume half the fuel of a traditional HMMWV (Humvee). Hydrogen is challenging enough to find in California, however, and could prove difficult to produce in a war zone without processing traditional fossil fuels on site.

Green Car Reports suggests GM's fuel-cell pickup has an extremely inconsistent range depending on road conditions. On Florida sand dunes, drivers can expect around 90 miles on a single tank of hydrogen -- half the range achieved in tests on Fort Carson's rolling hills.

The highly flammable fuel also poses a potential safety threat if the hydrogen pressure vessel is punctured. GM suggests the modified pickup is designed to direct vented hydrogen up and away from the vehicle if the tank is breached.

The Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center is expected to continue testing the ZH2 before the military seriously considers the technology for formal deployment on the battlefield.