The apprentices at Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen built the F-CELL Roadster which toured the section of the legendary route taken by Bertha Benz on the previous weekend. Commencing in Mannheim, the car was driven through Ladenburg and Heidelberg.
The roadster did a symbolic passing of the finish line at the shop of the chemist in Wiesloch, where Bertha Benz stopped in 1888 to refuel in the event of the first long-distance journey in the automobile history.
The voyage of the F-CELL Roadster is seen as a representation of what is actually taking place in auto engineering today. During that time Bertha Benz was not yet able to buy the gasoline she needed at a filling station, and for emission-free mobility there is also a dependence on the wide-ranging availability of electric power and hydrogen for the future.
And just as Bertha Benz did not permit inconvenience to stop her on her tracks, the people at Mercedes Group is also as equally determined to guarantee that these technologies reach their goals.
A B-Class with a fuel cell power system will be started in a small-series production by the company before the year is over. By the end of this year the first models of the smart fortwo electric drive model will see service in the "e-mobility Berlin" project early in 2010.
With a primary aim to integrate the topic of alternative drive systems into training, complete with hands-on experience, Mercedes-Benz commenced its F-Cell Roadster project, bringing in 150 Daimler AG trainees from different fields at the Sindelfingen Mercedes-Benz facility.
Thus, the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster project does not only aim to create a roadster powered by fuel cell. According to Günther Fleig, Human Resources Board member and Labor Relations Manager, the project shows that the topic of sustainable mobility is already an integral part of Mercedes' vocational training.
Indeed, the project involved trainees from the fields of automotive mechatronics, coating technology, electronics, interior appointments, manufacturing mechanics, model-building and product design. For around a year, these people worked on the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster Concept – from conception and development to assembly and completion.
Fleig quipped that he was delighted about the amount of initiative and creativity that the trainees have put into the project. When finished, the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster Concept represents a fusion between the history of vehicle construction and the science of advanced technologies like fuel cell.
It is powered by an emission-free fuel cell system placed on the rear, boasting of power rating of 1.2 kW. This allows the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster to cruise on a top speed of 25 km/h and achieve an operating range of up to 350 km. This concept features large sports wheel in reference to the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886.
It also features a number of design cues from various periods of automotive history, like the carbon-fiber bucket seats with hand-stitched leather covers as well as its fiberglass front section derived from Formula One racing cars.
As a demonstration of the German premium's carmaker's technological prowess, the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster Concept is controlled with drive-by-wire technology, with a joystick taking care of steering instead of the typical steering wheel.