Mercedes-Benz is showcasing parent company DaimlerChrysler’s latest fuel-cell technology in a new research vehicle to be unveiled at next week’s Tokyo motor show.
Dubbed F600 Hygenius, the futuristically styled four-seater uses a combination of fuel-cell propulsion and electric drive to return a claimed average 97mpg, enough to provide the 4348mm-long hatchback with a theoretical range of over 250 miles.
That’s an impressive 16 per cent improvement on the German car maker’s former fuel-cell-powered research vehicles, giving hope that the technology will one day find its way onto customer cars. Mercedes’ R&D boss, Thomas Weber, describes the advances made by the Hygenius as ‘a big step towards the future production potential of fuel cells’.
At the heart of the new car is an advanced fuel cell stack that Merc is touting for production between 2012 and 2015. Some 40 per cent more compact and significantly more efficient than earlier systems used by Mercedes-Benz, it is mounted in the Hygenius’ sloping nose and is fuelled by a hydrogen tank fitted within the flat floor.
The compressed hydrogen is combined with oxygen to produce electricity, which in turn powers an electric motor capable of putting out 115bhp.
Energy created under braking is stored in a lithium-ion battery to allow the Hygenius to run without the need for fuel-cell intervention at low speeds.
As well as providing a glimpse into the future of Mercedes’ driveline technology, the F600 Hygenius is said to hold some clues to the look of the next-generation C-class due in ’07, especially the headlamps and bold wheelarch flares.