Mercedes-Benz Puts Fuel Cell Tech to the Test

Mercedes-Benz F-Cell image

Mercedes-Benz F-Cell image

Mercedes-Benz is gearing up to show off the true potential of hydrogen fuel cell technology. The German automaker’s B-Class F-Cell will soon embark on an around-the-world trip to prove the efficiency and reliability of hydrogen cars.

While most automakers these days appear to be concentrating on battery-powered EVs, some brands like Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and General Motors, continue to research hydrogen fuel cell technology as a viable alternative. Although extensive testing has proven the technical maturity of fuel cells, a network of hydrogen filling stations is still one of the biggest hurdles that hinder its adoption.

To demonstrate its own advanced fuel cell technology, and to highlight the need for a larger global hydrogen filling station network, Mercedes will send its B-Class F-Cell vehicle on a 125-day trip around the world beginning on January 30. The F-Cell will traverse four continents and 14 countries while being trailed by a tank vehicle that will refuel the vehicle when no hydrogen station is available.

“Such an undertaking would not be possible, using purely battery-powered electric vehicles,” says Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the board of management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Development Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The B-Class F-Cell offers a range of nearly 250 miles of zero-emission travel thanks to an electric drive system powered by a fuel cell. The fuel cell generates the electrical power from a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen. The F-Cell’s electric motor produces 134 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren’t yet widely available, but Honda has been leasing its FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle in California for more than two years. The 2011 B-Class F-Cell vehicle will join the FCX Clarity in mid-December, when it will also become available for lease in California.

Vehicles that are powered by hydrogen fuel cells offer the same appeal of EVs like the Nissan Leaf in that they produce zero-emissions. Unfortunately, Arlington Mercedes Benz admits that until more hydrogen stations are installed in the U.S., most Americans won’t have access to the F-Cell, or any other hydrogen cars, anytime soon.

“Today, as with the invention of automobile 125 years ago, the issue of a corresponding fuelling infrastructure arises,” adds Weber. “I am confident that together with all of the parties involved we will find a solution that enables us to fully exploit the tremendous potential of this technology.”

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Written by David Lux

David is a blogger, marketer, and spends copious hours devouring content concerning autos, tech, and then more autos. You can follow him on Twitter: @autocontent

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