General Motors has made fuel cell vehicle history by supplying the US Army with, what GM describes as, the first fuel cell powered US military vehicle.

The US Army took delivery of the crew cab pickup at the GM research facility outside of Rochester, New York, where the vehicle’s two fuel cell power modules were made.

The modified Chevrolet Silverado is equipped with two 94-kilowatt fuel cell stacks, capable of generating 188 kilowatts and 317 foot-pounds of torque, or roughly the motor torque generated by GM’s 5.3 liter V-8 engine.

The US Army will evaluate the experimental truck until July 2006 at an army base in Fort Belvoir. The vehicle will be used to deliver packages but will not be used in combat. Rigorous testing is planned in different climates and locations around the US to assess performance and give the military first-hand experience with hydrogen and fuel cells.

Fuel cell vehicles are a good match with US Army goals, said Elizabeth Lowery, GM’s vice president for Environment and Energy. We are committed to the development of new technologies that will improve fuel consumption and reduce vehicle emissions. Fuel cell systems are both clean and quiet, and therefore, can provide a battlefield advantage.

Our partnership with the US Army will familiarize the military with the next-generation of commercially-developed fuel cell technology, will help us drive down costs, create potential for future joint development of fuel cells and promote the development of a hydrogen infrastructure, Lowery added.

The US Army has the largest fleet of vehicles in the world. Improving fuel economy and reducing the logistics of the fuel supply chain could save millions of dollars.