Not to be left out of the “green” car wars, Mercedes-Benz announced on Monday the “first fuel-cell car to enter series production.”
The new zero-emission B Class F-CELL offers performance similar to a 2.0-liter gasoline-powered car thanks to a 100 kW peak performance electric motor married to a drive system so efficient that, were it powered by diesel gasoline, would manage 71 miles per gallon.
The vehicle’s range is 248 miles and it takes three minutes to refuel it.
About that fuel, by the way: at the heart of the F-CELL’s technology sits a compact, high-performance fuel cell system. Hydrogen systems work by allowing gaseous hydrogen to react (and boy, can it react!) with atmospheric oxygen at 700 bar to generate a current for the electric motor.
The F-CELL uses a lithium-ion battery with an output of 35 kW and a capacity of 1.4 kWh to boost power and recover braking energy. Mercedes says it has good cold-start capability.
The upside? The only thing that comes out of the car’s tailpipe is water.
The downside? We need an entirely new fueling infrastructure — yep, all those filling stations need to handle hydrogen, not gasoline — to support it.
Mercedes says its parent company Daimler is “cooperating with government authorities, energy utilities and oil companies in joint projects in places such as Hamburg, Stuttgart and California” to make it happen.
But it’s still a long road, so to speak.
Mercedes offers its own view on the hurdles such systems face:
Mercedes-Benz views the development of electric cars with battery and fuel cell drives for local zero-emission driving as a means of supplementing vehicles with high-tech internal combustion engines.Advanced diesel and petrol engines will remain important for automotive applications for a long time to come - not only for individual mobility in passenger cars - especially over long distances - but, more importantly, for freight transport in trucks.
Electric vehicles, on the other hand, will increasingly be used in urban transport.