Currently reading: Merc fuel cell "weeks away"
Hydrogen-electric hybrid B-class heading for production

Mercedes' first-ever production fuel-cell vehicle, the B-class F-cell, will go into limited production within weeks.

The first 200 models could be built next month and will be delivered to customers who have leased it in the US and Europe soon after.

Dr Thomas Weber, head of research and development, told Autocar at the Frankfurt show, where the car was unveiled, production will start "in several weeks".

See the Mercedes-Benz B-class F-cell picture gallery

Mercedes claims its hydrogen-electric hybrid is comparable in performance to a 2.0-litre petrol car, but its zero-emission powertrain can manage the equivalent of 86.6mpg on the combined cycle.

The electric motor produces 134bhp and 214lb ft of torque. Its range is around 250 miles and it takes three minutes to refuel the car with hydrogen. By comparison, a 1.8-litre petrol B-class (no 2.0-litre petrol model is available) produces 114bhp and 114lb ft of torque in B180 BlueEfficiency SE guise.

The German firm has addressed one of the weaknesses in existing fuel-cell vehicles which is the ability to perform cold starts. The B-Class F-cell can start in temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius - lthough its Honda FCX Clarity rival is able to start from minus 30 degrees Celsius.

A 35kw lithium-ion battery is used to store any power wasted under acceleration, recovers energy lost under braking and it provides back-up power to the electric motor.

Interior and boot space are both unaffected by the addition of the F-cell powertrain. The boot’s capacity of 416 litres is the same as a regular B-class and the drive components are stored in the floor. Safety is also unaffected, with the system undergoing 30 crash tests prior to production.

A Mercedes statement said: “2009 is the year in which we are establishing further milestones where sustainable mobility is concerned. The B-Class F-cell is taking on a pioneering role as the world’s first fuel cell powered automobile to be produced under series production conditions.”

Dan Stevens

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daddy 3 29 August 2009

Re: Mercedes B-class F-cell launched

I see Merc is playing catch up again, this is brinning nothing new to the market, and as for the safety.Hydrogen is one of the unsafest fuels around and i am not convinced as yet that it can be used as safely as they say.

golfman 28 August 2009

Re: Mercedes B-class F-cell launched

And is it going to be cheap...and is the hydrogen going to be cheap? Otherwise, what's the point? The appeal of plug-ins is that you get cheap electric (about 10p per kilowatt-hour - or even cheaper overnight) and you can 'refuel' at home, so no more stopping at stations, and the electro-mechanics are simple. How is hydrogen better than plug-ins? And don't say you get better range, because you won't if there isn't a refuelling station nearby. Carbon dioxide quite evidently isn't warming the planet so what's the point of alternative-fuel cars? I can understand plug-ins because they should be cheap to run etc., but cannot understand hydrogen.

noluddite 28 August 2009

Re: Mercedes B-class F-cell launched

Looks like an impressive piece of kit, but 'F-Cell'. What an underwhelming moniker. I'm also amused by the 'safety is unnaffected' claim. Is 50 litres of liquid hydrogen in a reinforced tank really as 'safe' as 30 litres of petrol in a smash?