GM gets defense unit ready for deployment
The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 has completed a year of testing at military bases across the country.
The new GM Defense marks a major growth area and return to military work for the automaker after it sold a previous defense unit to General Dynamics Corp. for $1.1 billion in 2003.
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Automotive News | May 12, 2018 – 12:01 am EST
Editor’s note: GM Defense has not yet executed contracts. An earlier version of this story misstated the entity that has executed military contracts for GM.
DETROIT — General Motors says it’s putting the final touches on a new defense industry unit, which it expects to have fully operational this year.
GM incorporated the division as GM Defense in October, followed by registering it to do business in January. It marks a major growth area and return to defense work for GM after a previous defense unit was sold to General Dynamics Corp. for $1.1 billion in 2003.
Charlie Freese, who is expected to oversee the operations under GM product boss Mark Reuss, said GM Defense will leverage GM’s r&d resources for military applications. GM previously executed contracts that support military programs through a predecessor entity called GM LLC.
“Like any start-up, we are not waiting to begin developing solutions with our Defense Department partners,” he wrote in an email to Automotive News.
The Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure platform was designed to form a foundation for a family of commercial vehicles.
GM Defense initially is expected to focus on military applications for GM’s emerging fuel cell technologies, including a fuel-cell-powered Chevrolet Colorado known as the ZH2 and the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure platform — two examples Freese gave regarding ongoing work.
He said GM Defense has begun work on new opportunities that he declined to discuss in detail.
GM Defense’s current known products include the Colorado ZH2, SURUS and an unmanned undersea vehicle. All three remain under development, though the U.S. military has worked with GM and tested the undersea vehicle and the ZH2.
The Army recently concluded a year of ZH2 testing at military bases across the country. Published reports by the Army complimented its low output of exhaust, noise and heat.
Freese: “We are not waiting to begin developing solutions.”
“The vehicles were tested at military bases across the United States, in the hands of warfighters, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” Freese said.
He said the undersea vehicle has completed more than 1,000 hours of successful pool tests, using early generations of GM’s fuel cell technology.
GM said SURUS leverages the company’s newest Hydrotec fuel cell system, which is capable of more than 400 miles of range and is driven by two electric motors