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Chevrolet’s midsize Colorado truck enlists in the army with a hydrogen drivetrain

Chevrolet has teamed up with the United States Army to test a Colorado truck that’s powered by an experimental hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain.

The U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) is currently building the prototype with General Motors engineers and scientists at a research facility located in Warren, Michigan. The tie-up might sound a little unlikely at first, but TARDEC explains it’s interested in fuel cell vehicles because they present a number of advantages in the battle field over their gasoline- and diesel-powered counterparts.

Notably, they’re quiet, which allows them to operate in a relatively discreet manner, and they can go far off the beaten path because the hydrogen drivetrain generates gobs of low-end torque. TARDEC also points out that a truck powered by a hydrogen fuel cell can double as an electricity generator in remote areas, which is useful in emergency circumstances. Finally, scientists believe the water vapor emitted by the drivetrain can be put to use in the world’s driest areas.

Chevrolet has yet to reveal what components the Colorado prototype is powered by, but industry trade journal Automotive News reports it uses an evolution of the drivetrain found in the experimental Equinox FCV that participated in GM’s Project Driveway from 2009 to 2013. A cropped teaser image suggests TARDEC’s Colorado will wear a specific, battle-ready design with thin LED headlights and large fog lights.

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The U.S. Army will put the fuel-cell-equipped Colorado through its paces for a full year in order to see how it holds up compared to trucks powered by an internal combustion engine. When the truck will be introduced and when the pilot program is scheduled to kick off haven’t been announced yet. However, the Bowtie stresses that the truck is a prototype, and that it’s not planning on introducing a hydrogen-powered Colorado in the foreseeable future.