Mercedes-Benz aims to take hydrogen fuel-cells mainstream

The F-Cell is a plug-in EV/hydrogen fuel cell hybrid scheduled for 2019.

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Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz

General Motors' confidence in hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) vehicles seems to be sparking something of a renaissance among other automakers. In April, Toyota announced it was testing a HFC semi truck, and now Mercedes has announced a hybrid crossover utility vehicle that combines the pricey alternative-fuel tech with something a little less exotic: a battery-powered electric vehicle. The GLC F-Cell will carry 4.4 kilograms of hydrogen onboard, in addition to its 147 kilowatt lithium-ion battery. The automaker says that the the F-Cell's range can hit 437 kilometers (roughly 271 miles) with a governed top speed of 99 MPH, and that it'll charge in about 1.5 hours.

Gallery: Mercedes Benz F-Cell | 4 Photos


In terms of horsepower, Mercedes says the crossover has an output of 197 ponies and 258 foot-pounds of torque. You'll be able to pick from a few different driving modes including true hybrid (both power plants are working interchangeably) and fuel-cell only ("the ideal mode if the intention is to keep the electric range in reserve").

There's also battery-only ("the ideal mode for short distances") and a mode where battery charging takes top priority. That's planned for recharging for "maximum overall range prior to refueling with hydrogen," and also "creates power reserves for uphill or very dynamic driving."

From the sounds of it, that lithium-ion power plant could be the key to overcoming HFC's biggest drawback: a dearth of refueling infrastructure. Mercedes' hydrogen station plan still doesn't sound very promising though. Its "concrete plan" includes 100 stations built by the end of next year, with "up to 400" in place by 2023. The vehicle is expected to go on sale in the US by the end of next year.

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