The hydrogen fuel cell electric truck platform developed by General Motors can be adopted by a family of commercial vehicles used for cargo delivery and commercial freight, the automaker said on Friday.
The platform, nicknamed SURUS for Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, uses two electric drive units and GM’s Generation 2 hydrogen fuel cell system that is capable of more than 400 miles of range.
SURUS will make its public debut at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army on Oct. 9. The Army is currently testing a hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck known as the ZH2, and is in discussions with GM to evaluate SURUS in the future.
“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, GM’s global head of fuel cell development. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.”
GM announced SURUS on Tuesday as part of its plans to introduce 20 all-electric passenger vehicles by 2023. Engineers created the SURUS platform by combining the chassis of two of its heavy-duty pickup trucks. It is driven by two electric motors and features four-wheel steering.
The automaker revealed on Friday that SURUS is powered by its Generation 2 hydrogen fuel cell system, called Hydrotec, which will be produced at the company’s Brownstown, Mich. facility as part of the partnership between GM and Honda to develop advanced fuel cell systems.
Some of the benefits of Hydrotec include quiet and odor-free operation, high instantaneous torque and quick refueling. Like the ZH2, it is also capable of providing an exportable power source and generating water.
SURUS is designed to assist in “some of the toughest transportation challenges” such as natural disasters and global conflicts, according to GM. It will also have autonomous capabilities that could allow multiple SURUS vehicles to operate in a digitally-tethered platoon, or convoy.
Military testing has already shown that the ZH2 has a detection distance that is reduced by 90 percent compared to conventional vehicles, meaning the hydrogen-powered pickup can get ten times closer to its target. Much of that is due to the electric powertrain, which produces less noise than a diesel engine.
The ZH2 has also proved more fuel efficient than current military vehicles since the Army began testing in April. By comparison, the Hydrotec system in SURUS will have double the range—400 miles compared to 200 miles from the ZH2.
Other automakers are exploring the use of hydrogen fuel-cells to produce electricity to power trucks.
In April, Toyota unveiled its hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty truck called Project Portal, which underwent testing at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach during the summer. US Hybrid has also shown a hydrogen fuel cell truck that it intends to test, and Kenworth expects to sell its own model by the end of this year.