January 10, 2003

GM unveils diesel hybrid military truck

Warren, Michigan – General Motors and the U.S. Army revealed a diesel hybrid military pickup truck equipped with a fuel cell auxiliary power unit (APU) that could become the model for the Army’s new fleet of 30,000 light tactical vehicles by the end of the decade.

The diesel hybrid improves Army fuel consumption by 20 percent over conventional diesels, reduces emissions and provides troops with clean, reliable electrical power. These are crucial elements in helping to transform the Army into a lighter, more mobile military unit. And with fuel transportation costs reaching up to U.S.$400 a gallon depending on training or battlefield operations, the taxpayer savings could run well into the millions of dollars.

The fuel cell APU would replace the loud engine-and battery-based stationary generators the Army now uses for field power, thus enhancing the Army’s “silent watch” capability, or the ability to operate undetected by the enemy. Fuel cells are much quieter than engine generators and do not give off as much heat, making them less likely to be picked up by enemy heat sensors. The fuel cell unit also familiarizes the military with the next generation of commercially developed fuel cell technology, so that military vehicles could be powered by fuel cells within the next 10 years.

GM unveiled the heavy-duty, militarized version of the commercial Chevrolet Silverado crew cab in a ceremony with Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development and planning, and U.S. Army Major General N. Ross Thompson III, commanding officer of the Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.

“Our prototype truck incorporates advanced diesel hybrid powertrain technology and introduces the military to the flexibility and security of fuel cell electric power,” Burns said. “This defense project is a great opportunity to put large numbers of diesel hybrids and stationary fuel cell units in operation in the interest of national security.

“We also anticipate that it will accelerate cost-effective and durable civilian applications of hybrid-electric vehicles and fuel cells. As an early customer, the military will help drive down costs, increase our learnings, and spur the eventual development of a hydrogen-based economy.”

The vehicle was designed and engineered by GM Military Truck Operations, based in Troy, Michigan, and incorporates technologies from Allison Transmission Division of General Motors, GM’s Fuel Cell Activities organization, and GM’s strategic fuel cell alliance partner, Hydrogenics Corp., based in Mississauga, Ontario.

The Army will evaluate the prototype before establishing performance and procurement criteria and opening the bid process. The Army is expected to want 30,000 hybrids by the end of the decade.

GM has a long history of serving the U.S. Army’s transportation needs. The automaker has produced about 80,000 military vehicles since the mid-1980s.

The truck’s military features include Raytheon First Responder command and control equipment, infrared night vision camera and GM’s “extreme mobility package” to meet the harshest off-road conditions and payload requirements.

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