That Holden Colorado that sits among the top four utes in New Zealand? It’s just become the new rapid response vehicle for the United States armed forces.
Or rather a stripped-down version of the Holden donor ute has. It is based on the four-wheel-drive Chevy Colorado ZR2 (below) and uses 90 per cent of its parts, including, like the Holden, the Duramax 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic gearbox.
The all-terrain troop carrier has been given the moniker ISV – Infantry Squad Vehicle. General Motors (GM) has just landed a US$214 million (NZ$335m) US Government contract to build the first 649, part of a production run for the armed services of more than 2000 variants over the next 10 years.
The biggest difference from the everyday Colorado is the body. The ISV is all-Colorado from the waist down, but uses a skeletal frame with lightweight composite panels here and there up top.
It can be built in several configurations. These include troop transport for nine soldiers, a heavy weapons platform, and cargo carrier. The soldiers occupy two seats in front, three in the second row, two-rear facing seats in a third row, and two more outward-facing seats in a fourth row at the back, behind the rear axle.
Their gear gets stowed in the space between the third and fourth rows, strapped to webbing over the cabin, or slung from the numerous gusset apertures through the roll cage structure.
Colorado came to the attention of defence contractors when it completed 11 consecutive legs of the gruelling Best in the Desert race series, one of only four out of 434 competitors to cover 16,000km in total. Best in the Desert is the largest off-road race organisation in North America.
The US Army awarded US$1m contracts to three competing companies, Oshkosh-Flyer, SAIC-Polaris, and GM, to design an ISV that could be carried in a sling under a Blackhawk helicopter or fit inside a Chinook helicopter.
GM’s defence division partnered with global specialist Ricardo to turn the Colorado into a giant roll cage with skid plates that protect, among other components, the engine and front and rear mounts for the long-travel Multimatic DSSV shock absorbers.
GM’s ISV has a payload of 1450kg. Its approach angle of 46.1 degrees and departure angle of 42 degrees is substantially better than the standard ZR2, as well as other four-wheelers like the Jeep Wrangler.