The Chevrolet Silverado could be heading to the front lines, but not the same one you can buy. At least not yet.
GM Defense, the new General Motors division focused on military machines, has posted a video to its website that reveals a hydrogen-fueled electric Silverado ZH2 pickup is in the works. Automotive News reports that the video was first presented at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting in October.
The camouflaged truck appears to be based on the upcoming all-new 2020 Silverado HD, which the automaker has teased with a single image released earlier this year. The two share the same distinctive lighting and grill styling, and the video refers to the Silverado ZH2 as a heavy duty design.
The Silverado ZH2 is essentially a super-size version of the Colorado ZH2 that’s been undergoing tests with the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center since last year, and rides on a set of Multimatic spool valve shocks similar to the ones found on the Colorado ZR2 high performance off-roader.
Instead of a battery pack, the Silverado is equipped with three tanks of hydrogen for a Hydrotec-branded fuel cell that generates electricity and provides stealthy, but powerful performance over a 400-mile range. Along with its quiet operation, the powertrain has a lower heat signature than an internal combustion engine would create and produces drinkable water as its only emission.
The pitch is that military units can convert the expensive JP8 fuel they bring into the field into hydrogen on site, then use it more efficiently in fuel cell vehicles like the ZH2s, which can be refueled in a fraction of the time it would take to charge a battery pack with similar range. GM is also developing a hydrogen-powered fully-autonomous cargo vehicle called the SURUS with military applications in mind.
General Motors hasn’t announced plans for any hydrogen-powered consumer vehicles, but it is collaborating with Honda on fuel cell development and promises to have 20 electric models in its lineup by 2023.