US Army and GM working on fuel cell vehicle

General Motors and the US Army have revealed that they are collaborating on a military vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

(Credit: GM)
(Credit: GM)

Developed under a 2015 agreement between GM and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Centre (TARDEC), the vehicle will be based on a Chevrolet Colorado. The collaboration facilitates technology transfer between GM and the army, with the Detroit company providing access to its consumer-driven automotive technology in exchange for the military’s feedback on non-standard fuel cell applications.

The US Department of Defense has previously expressed its intention to include commercial innovation in its next-generation technologies. Hydrogen fuel cells – long studied by the car industry – could also deliver a range of benefits to military vehicles, including quieter movement, exportable power generation, low-end torque and water generation.

”Hydrogen fuel cells as a power source have the potential to bring to the force incredibly valuable capabilities,” said TARDEC director Paul Rogers. “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. Fuel cell propulsion has low-end torque capability that is useful in an off-road environment. It also offers additional characteristics attractive to both commercial and military off-road use.”

Specifics have yet to be released by either GM or TARDEC, but the vehicle is set to be unveiled at the Autumn meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Washington DC this October.

“This project is another example of how fuel cell propulsion can play a role in non-traditional applications,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Fuel Cell Activities. “We need to continue pursuing these opportunities along with our plans for production of a commercial fuel cell system in the 2020 time frame.”