Chevrolet Colorado ZH2: Clean, Green, Quiet Warfare Awaits

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
chevrolet colorado zh2 clean green quiet warfare awaits

General Motors has rolled out a unique variant of its popular midsize Chevrolet Colorado pickup in advance of U.S. military trials scheduled to begin next year.

The Colorado ZH2, seemingly plucked from the set of a Mad Max sequel, has seen its frame and body stretched, reinforced and modified to within an inch of its life, and draws its power from a hydrogen fuel cell.

If this sounds like eco-nonsense, and you’re wondering when the U.S. Navy will announce a return to sail, hold on — there are tactical advantages to the vehicle’s powertrain.

Developed in collaboration with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), the vehicle went from concept to test model within a year. Naturally, GM is quite proud of this.

The U.S. Army takes possession of the vehicle next year, where “extreme field testing” will give a thumbs up or down to the future use of hydrogen vehicles in military operations.

Riding on a lengthened frame, carried by 37-inch tires and a heavily modified suspension, the ZH2 has an immediate drawback. Simply, hydrogen is an incredibly scarce power source, despite being one of the most common elements on earth. Gasoline, diesel, and even electric power is infinitely easier to find, with infrastructure solidly in place.

It’s easy to scoff at the idea of a hydrogen-fueled vehicle waltzing onto a battlefield filled with flying ordnance, or smirk at the supposed benefits of lowering emissions during messy combat operations. The ZH2, however, isn’t taking the place of a main battle tank or light armored vehicle. It’s a specialized tool, with two big advantages: portable power, and near-silent operation.

Under its hood, the ZH2 packs a Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO) that GM says “allows the fuel cell to power activity away from the vehicle, such as remote locations where electric power may otherwise be unavailable.”

To pass the Army’s test, the ZH2 needs to impress in several areas. On the evaluation checklist are: near-silent operation, reduced acoustic and thermal signatures, high wheel torque, low fuel consumption, and water by-product for field use.

For a specialized mission, the ZH2 would presumably tap into a limited reserve of hydrogen at the operating base, then proceed on its relatively quiet foray into the danger zone.

According to Defense One, the vehicle starts off-road testing in January, rotating through Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, and Quantico. Some technical testing will take place in Michigan.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Golden2husky Cash for clunkers was a horrible waste of resources. "Car dealers are asset rich and cash poor. Cash flow is something we look at every single day in a car dealership," she continued. "What if that $200,000 the government owes me is the same time I have a big payroll, and I have floorplan to pay off and, oh, it's tax time? All of a sudden, the dealer is in a cash crunch."Oh, my heart is just breaking for them...and with all that ADM, they can go screw themselves...they should have a line of credit. Use it.
  • Sgeffe How much of a current draw is one of those digital plates?
  • Ajla I had a chance to drive a few Toyota/Lexus products the last two weeks. The turbo-4 is basically charmless. I don't see much reason to go for it over the over the 2.5L or a HSD hybrid. Maybe if you live at higher elevation?The "HybridMax" is interesting. The stronger rear motor gives it more of a RWD feel. It isn't a sporty powertrain but was reasonably smooth and powerful.
  • MaintenanceCosts A fair deal would be a single tier with at least a 33% raise for everyone over the life of the contract to make up for recent inflation and quite a few below-inflation years.Retiree health benefits and pensions are ridiculous, could legitimately bankrupt the automakers (unlike the raise), and shouldn't be in the deal.I'd really like to see the union accept a bit less cash and go after the 32-hour workweek harder. I think all of our society would be better on a four-day-a-week schedule, with little if any loss of output - business after business has found that people are more productive with four-day schedules, and almost everyone who tries it keeps it.
  • Jordan Mulach Hey Matt, this story has already been uncovered as not being the Camry update. Toyota US actually took independent digital renders and used them.You can see more about it from the artist here: