When everyone was going hybrid, taking baby-steps toward an alternative-fueled future, Mercedes jumped into its prototype Hydrogen-powered machines and buzzed off toward the horizon. Now, perhaps realizing that it moved a bit too quickly for the distribution infrastructure to keep up, the company seems to be pulling back a bit, introducing the BlueZERO line of autos that all share the same shell -- pictured above looking good at its most flattering angle, but not so hot after the break. The series will encompass three cars: the fully-electric E-CELL (possibly featuring Tesla batteries), with a 120 mile range; the hydrogen-powered F-CELL, with a 248 mile range; and the hybrid E-CELL PLUS that, like the Volt, will carry a gasoline engine to recharge the batteries and provide up to 370 miles of non-stop motoring (10 more than Chevy's offering). The trio are set to release in 2010, which should be a historic year for the auto industry... assuming we still have an auto industry in 2010.

Mercedes hedges alt-fuel bets with BlueZero electric, hydrogen, and hybrid models