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A new division of General Motors Co.’s product development team is forming to meet the needs of global aerospace and defense customers, the company said Monday.

GM Defense LLC was announced after the Detroit-based automaker in recent years has partnered with the U.S. military on fuel cell vehicles and other hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

“This new business structure will enhance GM’s productivity, agility and affordability in a very dynamic customer environment,” Charlie Freese, executive director of GM global fuel cell business, said in a statement. “Our goal is to make it simpler and more seamless to do business with General Motors.”

The company most recently rolled out its Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) at an early October event in Warren. The SURUS is essentially a four-wheel concept vehicle built on a heavy-duty truck frame that’s powered by two electric motors. The concept vehicle is a large flatbed, which can be outfitted with a cabin for a driver. It could potentially run autonomously.

The concept vehicle shown in October did not have a cabin. GM said then that it could be used and outfitted as a power-station on wheels, an ambulance, cargo delivery and commercial freight.

The platform could be used by the military or for disaster relief. The flatbed will be able to use GM’s autonomous driving suite, too. The fuel cell truck runs quietly, emits no odors and has off-road capability.

“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Freese. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.”

The U.S. Army in April began testing GM’s Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, a fuel-cell powered off-road vehicle. The U.S. Navy has also been testing a GM fuel cell-powered underwater drone.

The automaker has said it would begin making hydrogen fuel cells at its battery facility in Brownstown Township by 2020.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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