Auto Tech

US Army will test a hydrogen fuel cell Chevrolet Colorado

Some very hardcore testing will determine whether or not fuel cells are viable for Chevrolet's mid-size pickup.

General Motors released a design sketch that gives us a sneak peek at the special Colorado that will be outfitted with the fuel-cell powertrain.

GM

General Motors and the US Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) are combining forces to create and test a Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. It will undergo 12 months of extreme military testing to determine whether or not it can withstand such rigors.

"FCVs (fuel-cell vehicles) are very quiet vehicles, which scouts, special operators and other specialties place a premium," said Paul Rogers, TARDEC's director. "What's more, fuel cells generate water as a by-product, something extremely valuable in austere environments."

Hydrogen fuel cells work by mixing fresh air and compressed hydrogen gas to create electricity, which charges batteries that power electric motors to propel the vehicle. The only byproduct is clean water.

Putting such a drivetrain in a pickup truck is beneficial because electric motors generate lots of low-end torque, which is useful off road. The fuel cell's batteries can also be used to juice up other devices, making it both a vehicle and a portable power source.

The US Army is clearly not going to outline how it tests its vehicles, so there aren't too many details on the tests which will take place over these 12 months. Suffice it to say, daily military use should be more than extensive enough to prove the truck's viability.

"The potential capabilities hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles can bring to the Warfighter are extraordinary, and our engineers and scientists are excited about the opportunity to exercise the limits of this demonstrator," Rogers said.