Equipment Type

GM Unveils Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure

Hydrotec fuel cell technology adapted for commercial trucking use

October 16, 2017
Rendering of the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) platform with a truck chassis

During the recent Association of the United States Army (AUSA) event in Washington, D.C., General Motors displayed its new commercially designed truck platform which could be adapted for military use.

The Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) leverages GM’s newest Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell system, autonomous capability and truck chassis components to deliver high-performance, zero-emission propulsion to minimize logistical burdens and reduce human exposure to harm.  

The Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) uses GM’s newest Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell system

“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.”

Since last April, the Army has been testing the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 concept pickup-style military vehicle as part of a joint venture between GM and TARDEC to determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles in military mission tactical environments. The vehicle has been operating in off-road conditions to evaluate its power generation, reduced odor, acoustic and thermal signatures, high wheel torque, extended operating range and the potential to use the byproduct water.

The SURUS platform leverages GM’s Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 experience in fuel cell technology, high-voltage batteries and electric drive systems, autonomous driving and vehicle manufacturing. The platform boasts:

  • Two advanced electric drive units
  • Four-wheel steering
  • Lithium-ion battery system
  • Gen 2 fuel cell system
  • Hydrogen storage system capable of more than 400 miles of range
  • Advanced propulsion power electronics
  • GM truck chassis components
  • An advanced suspension

GM notes that the quiet operation of the hydrogen fuel cell technology has reduced the vehicle's acoustic signature by 90 percent, meaning it can get 10 times closer to its mission before being detected -  a huge advantage over diesel-powered vehicles.

Additionally, because the ZH2 fuel cell electric drivetrain creates 81 percent less heat than a Humvee-type vehicle, it is less visible to thermal imagining systems.

Other benefits include odor-free operation, off-road mobility, field configuration, instantaneous high torque, exportable power generation, water generation and quick refueling times. 

TARDEC has been in discussions with GM evaluating the commercial SURUS concept as a next step of the broader collaboration to evaluate fuel cell technology for future military applications.

Currently, GM is evaluating multiple applications for SURUS, such as:

  • Utility trucks
  • Mobile and emergency backup power generation
  • Flexible cargo delivery systems
  • Commercial freight
  • Light- and medium-duty trucks, improving upon the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 that has been evaluated by the U.S. military under guidance of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and is undergoing testing on bases
  • Future military-specific configurations

Partnerships remain an important part of GM’s electrification strategy. Last year, the U.S. Navy unveiled a GM fuel cell-powered Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) for testing purposes that leverages GM fuel cell technology common with the Colorado ZH2.

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