GM, TARDEC to modify Chevy Colorado to run on hydrogen

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Thursday that the automaker and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) are altering a Chevy Colorado pickup to run on hydrogen fuel cells and will test the vehicle in extreme military use for a year.

GM said it would announce more details on the vehicle and timing later.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology is important to GM’s advanced propulsion portfolio, and this enables us to put our technology to the test in a vehicle that will face punishing military duty cycles,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s global fuel cell engineering activities, in a statement.

GM and TARDEC announced in September 2013 they were expanding their collaboration to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology, a project they said would last up to five years. They have partnered to work together on new fuel cell designs and materials. GM has fuel cell development and research facilities in Pontiac, while TARDEC has them in Warren.

TARDEC Director Paul Rogers said hydrogen fuel cells could bring “extraordinary” possible capabilities to military vehicles.

"FCVs are very quiet vehicles, which scouts, special operators and other specialties place a premium,” Rogers said in a statement. “What's more, fuel cells generate water as a by-product, something extremely valuable in austere environments."

Fuel cell power also can be used in off-road environments and can offer exportable electric power, which is attractive in military use, according to the company and TARDEC.

Fuel cell vehicles can run on renewable hydrogen from wind and biomass, with water vapor as the only emission.

GM has been working on fuel cell technology for decades and in 2007 launched a fleet of 119 hydrogen fuel-cell Chevrolet Equinox vehicles that were driven daily, tallying more than 3 million miles.

The Detroit based automaker also has a long-term agreement with Honda to co-develop fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies that could be available around 2020. And In early 2012, the U.S. Army also unveiled a fleet of 16 GM hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles that then were being evaluated for real world use.

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