General Motors and the United States Army have been collaborating on various fuel cell vehicle technology projects for more than a decade. The automaker and the Army's TARDEC are now preparing to show the latest fruits of their efforts, a Chevy Colorado-based fuel cell vehicle built for off-road, off-grid military service. Judging by the teaser photo released Tuesday, it should definitely be a big, bruising battlefield beast. We'll see it within the next two months.
GM and the US Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) detailed plans to work together on an "extreme off-road hydrogen fuel cell Chevrolet Colorado" last November. And that's still about all the information we have about the vehicle itself. In announcing its unveiling on Tuesday, GM reiterated that it's a Colorado-based fuel cell electric vehicle, but it didn't drop any additional specs or hints, save for a single teaser photo.
The shadowy photo shows an off road-fortified utility vehicle with what appears to be a shortened bed. Judging by the view of the sunset-tinged sky through the open air below the frame, it has some serious ground clearance, helped out by the big, grippy tires. It definitely looks to go even more rugged than the 2014 Colorado ZR2 concept, and if we're really getting out there with wishful thinking, looks like it could be a nice GM answer for the upcoming Jeep Wrangler pickup.
While it's the vehicle we're waiting to see, TARDEC's focus is the fuel cell technology itself, according to director Paul Rogers, not the vehicle platform.
"Fuel cell propulsion has low-end torque capability that is useful in an off-road environment," Rogers says. "We expect the vehicle to be quiet in operation and ready to provide electricity generation for needs away from the vehicle. With fuel cell technology advancing, it's an ideal time to investigate its viability in extreme military-use conditions."
The Army will conduct user assessments and demonstrations in 2017. The project will give GM insight into non-standard fuel cell applications.
"FCVs are very quiet vehicles, which scouts, special operators and other specialties place a premium," Rogers said when the vehicle was announced last year. "What's more, fuel cells generate water as a byproduct, something extremely valuable in austere environments."
While the Paris Motor Show has been known to have its fair share of interesting off-road vehicles, the new vehicle will be debuted at a venue that's less "auto," more "army" – an October meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, DC.
We look forward to seeing it in the light.