Chevrolet's Colorado ZH2 concept is a badass Army R&D machine
If only every Chevrolet Colorado looked this buff.
Andrew KrokReviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
When Chevrolet's team told me they were building a "crazy" Colorado pickup truck for the Army, I wasn't exactly sold on the adjective. But now that I've seen it, I take back those hesitations. This thing is awesome.
If you're looking at this and thinking, "This is not a Colorado," you're right, it's not a production-spec Colorado. Its frame is stretched, and the whole thing measures more than 6.5 feet tall and more than 7 feet wide. It rides on 37-inch off-road tires, and the suspension's been modified for a more rugged terrain, as well.
The Colorado ZH2 (H2 as in hydrogen) is a one-off concept for the US Army, built in conjunction with the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Its goal is to prove the capabilities of hydrogen fuel-cell technology in areas where the Army would operate.
To achieve that goal, it utilizes a component called an Exportable Power Take-Off unit, which allows the truck to create electricity that can then be used away from the vehicle, in places where a grid hookup isn't exactly common -- say, the middle of the desert.
The US Army will also use the truck to evaluate its silent operating ability and reduced thermal signatures. There are also practical applications for its instantaneous and ample torque (thanks, electric motors) and low fuel consumption. And since the only byproduct is water, the Army will also look into using that water in the field.
This truck won't benefit just the Army. Chevrolet will get valuable research information from this, as well, because it's not like the automaker has the time and money to go off and play Army in the desert. To date, Chevrolet says its hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles have driven more than 3.1 million miles, and this new concept should add plenty more -- albeit not on traditional roads.