Trucks & SUVs

This Hydrogen-Powered Silverado Was Custom Made for the Military

The General Motor company already provides powerful and reliable vehicles to consumers, but it also has a military division. Using the most advanced technology, GM Defense modifies existing Chevy vehicles to be more suited to soldiers’ needs. Military versions of both the Silverado and Colorado are known as ZH2 trucks.

Both of these vehicles offer advanced fuel cell development technology that you wouldn’t find in a civilian model. The Silverado ZH2 features many upgrades over the Colorado version, like an improved hydrogen-powered motor. What else does this hydrogen-powered Silverado provide to active duty members?

A hydrogen-fueled Silverado engine

Instead of the standard gas engine, the Silverado ZH2 only requires three tanks of hydrogen as a fuel source. JP8 fuel can be quickly converted into hydrogen onsite instead of recharging the battery, saving valuable time. The Hydrotec engine can produce up to 100 kilowatts of power and has a driving range of 400 miles.

The truck itself is based on the Silverado HD and comes with a distinctive camouflage coat of paint. It has a next-gen chassis and spool valve shocks, which helps it perform better in off-roading situations.

Soldiers often have to travel over rough terrain, so the Silverado ZH2 has some extra off-roading features. It has recovery hooks on the bumper, skid plates, Beadlock wheels, bigger tires, and a winch. It also has a higher payload capacity than the standard heavy-duty Silverado.

Why this truck is important to the military

A truck that isn’t a hassle to refuel is essential to on-duty military personnel. Trucks are the best vehicles for military operations because of their flexible cargo boxes and heavy-duty construction. However, a regular truck is usually loud and consumes a lot of gas,

The modified ZH2 is both easier to refuel and quieter than your average truck. It also has a lower heat signature, which prevents the truck from being easily tracked by enemy troops. Detection from opposing armies could be a fatal event, so the ZH2 is designed to be as silent as possible. When resources are scarce, the truck is capable of producing drinkable water from the tailpipe.

GM is also interested in producing vehicles with leader-follower capability. While expensive to produce, this could dramatically increase safety for soldiers.

The hydrogen-powered Colorado ZH2

Before the hydrogen Silverado ZH2, GM Defense tested its fuel-cell powertrains in other vehicles. The first was a pack of Equinox SUVs powered by hydrogen fuel-cells. After these vehicles performed well, the automaker went on to produce the Colorado ZH2.

Like the Silverado version, the Colorado ZH2 is designed to tackle rocky terrain and noiselessly transport soldiers. However, its fuel system is slightly different. It has a hydrogen battery instead of hydrogen tanks, so it takes longer to charge. Its driving range is also shorter at around 200 miles.

GM’s other military projects

Besides pickup trucks, GM has manufactured a few other types of military defense vehicles. The SURUS (which stands for Silent Utility Rover Universal Super Structure) started development in 2017. It looks and operates like a truck bed, carrying equipment to troops across large distances or hazardous conditions.

Like the hydrogen Silverado, this vehicle has 400 miles of all-electric driving range. It’s also fully autonomous, has four-wheel drive, and can produce water for soldiers. The vehicle is frequently used as a mobile hospital.

GM Defense also partnered with the Navy to produce the UUV, or Unmanned Underwater Vehicle. As the name suggests, this vehicle is also fully autonomous. It uses hydrogen fuel cells as its primary power source. The Navy uses these small vehicles for reconnaissance missions, naval mine countermeasures, and transporting resources between fleets.