GM in talks with U.S. military for new fuel cell platform

General Motors is holding talks with the U.S. Army about evaluating and adopting the company’s new hydrogen fuel cell platform for military use.
The automaker said Friday that the discussions with the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center about the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure platform could be “a next step of the broader collaboration to evaluate fuel cell technology for future military applications.”
SURUS is a flexible fuel cell-powered, four-wheel concept with autonomous capabilities. It is based on a heavy-duty truck frame and designed as a “foundation” for a new generation of commercial vehicles that leverages a single propulsion system integrated into a common chassis, according to officials.
“This is our commercial fuel cell solution that we think will solve real-world, near-term problems,” Charlie Freese, GM executive director of global fuel cell business, told media Monday during a preview of SURUS. The platform will be on display at the fall meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army next week in Washington, D.C.
Outside military solutions, GM is evaluating SURUS for a wide-range of applications such as freight; mobile and emergency backup power generation; light- and medium-duty trucks; and emergency rescue vehicles such as ambulances and others used in disaster-relief efforts, helping reduce human exposure to harm.
The fuel cell system, according to GM, boasts a range of more than 400 miles. SURUS is about 16.5 feet long and 7.5 feet wide.
A GM spokeswoman declined to disclose specific details about the discussions or development time frame of SURUS, noting it was being developed “with target commercial markets in mind.”
“The platform is still in development,” she wrote in an email to Automotive News. “We do not confirm timings or details of future product.”

Fuel cell tech
SURUS, according to GM, leverages the company’s newest Hydrotec fuel cell system, autonomous capability and truck chassis components to deliver high-performance, zero-emission propulsion to minimize logistical burdens. It’s driven by two electric motors.
Benefits include quiet and odor-free operation, off-road mobility, field configuration, instantaneous high torque, exportable power generation, water generation and quick refueling times.
Fuel cell technology represents a key piece of GM’s zero-emission strategy. It offers a solution that can scale to larger vehicles with large payload requirements and operate over longer distances.
GM has been working in partnership with Honda since 2013 on fuel cell technology. In January, the companies unveiled plans to invest $85 million to build hydrogen fuel cell stacks for next-generation green vehicles at a factory in Michigan.
SURUS was developed separately from the partnership with Honda.
GM-military partnerships
SURUS is one of several recent initiatives between GM and the U.S. military.
Since April, the Army has been testing the fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 on U.S. bases to determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles in military-mission tactical environments.
The vehicle has been operating in off-road conditions to evaluate power generation, reduced odor, acoustic and thermal signatures, high wheel torque, extended operating range and potential use of the byproduct water.
Military testing has shown the ZH2 reduced acoustic nondetection distance by 90 percent compared with current military vehicles in operation, according to GM. This means the ZH2 can get 10 times closer before being detected.
“The feedback has been phenomenal,” Freese said.
Last year, the U.S. Navy unveiled a GM fuel cell-powered unmanned undersea vehicle for testing purposes that leverages fuel cell technology common with the Colorado ZH2.

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Fuente: Auto News