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The U.S. Army Might Use a General Motors Fuel Cell Reconnaissance Vehicle in the Future

Last August, GM became the official engine supplier for the Army’s JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) after the two parties agreed on a deal that would see as many as 55,000 Duramax V8 turbodiesel engines fitted under the hood of the future Humvee replacement.
GM fuel cell vehicle for US Army 1 photo
But GM’s ties with the army are soon to be extended beyond this diesel engines agreement, with the automotive giant announcing it has signed a multi-year contract for building a fuel cell reconnaissance vehicle for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The information on the subject is still sketchy, and with the military involved, it’s easy to understand why. We don’t know what kind of vehicle we’re talking about, or even if GM is building one from scratch, or it will adapt an existing format to the requirements of the fuel cell powerplant.

GM will surely see this as a great opportunity to promote its fuel cell technology ahead of a full-scale commercial release. If this powering solution proves itself out on the battlefields, few will still be able to doubt its viability on the peaceful streets of our country.

On the other hand, fuel cell technology makes a lot of sense for the army as well. There are a number of advantages besides the obvious one that would apply to any electric vehicle, regardless of where it gets its power from: it’s a lot more silent than a combustion engine-powered machine. And since it’s a reconnaissance vehicle we’re talking about, that could actually prove vital.

There are other things to take into account, though: the fuel cell can be used as a generator to produce electricity in the field much more efficiently than a gasoline engine would. The electric powertrain delivers power more smoothly with high torque values at low speeds, which is suitable for the usually heavy military vehicles. And one final thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is the issue of weight: gaseous fuel is lighter than a liquid one, so refueling would be made easier.

GM is currently working together with Honda on a next-generation fuel cell technology for passenger cars, but the one tested by the military is a GM-only developed design. GM has previously said it intends to launch a car with fuel cell powertrain by 2020.


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