General Motors has agreed to build all-terrain vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells for the U.S. Army.

The carmaker has signed a “a multi-year contract to build and demonstrate a fuel cell reconnaissance vehicle” for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, said Mark Reuss, the president of General Motors North America.

He also noted that the vehicle “will be based on our current fuel cell development program, on our current stack. It will show the unique advantages our proven fuel cell technology can offer in an all-terrain tactical application.”

This partnership will give GM the ability to test its fuel cell powertrains under heavy-duty conditions, said GM spokesman Dan Flores. He didn’t elaborate further on the project, but did say GM hopes to offer more details soon.

fuel cell vehicles

Graphics credit: General Motors.

Though GM and its sub-brands don’t currently have a fuel cell vehicle (FCV) on the market, the company has been actively working on the technology for some time. In 2008, GM launched a three-year FCV trial by outfitting 100 Chevy Equinox SUVs with hydrogen tanks and an FCV powertrain.

GM also holds more FCV patents worldwide than any other carmaker and is working closely with the runner-up in patents, Honda. GM’s Executive Director of its Global Fuel Cell Activities, Charlie Freese, disclosed some of the progress made by the joint GM-Honda development team.

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“It’s coming down very, very quickly in terms of precious metal loading,” said Freese earlier this year. “The workhorse fuel cell stacks have 29 grams of platinum. The next-gen stack is down in the 10 gram range. The next generation is running in our laboratory now. Weight is down by almost one half. Size is also down by almost one half. And cost has come down in orders of magnitude.”

Reuss also said that this partnership has by “very successful.” Though the vehicle GM is building for the Army doesn’t include any Honda technology, but Reuss added that GM and Honda “will be discussing plans to explore other collaborations in the near future.”


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