Mercedes-Benz announces F-CELL World Drive

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 17, 2011

Mercedes-Benz won’t just tell you how practical and functional hydrogen an alternative fuel is, the carmaker aims to prove it by having its B-class F-Cell driven around the world. This marketing ploy -- the ‘Mercedes-Benz F-Cell World Drive’ -- is meant to promote hydrogen fuel cell powered cars. One thing that the carmaker would want to emphasize is that refueling the F-Cell takes only three minutes.

It’s quite poetic how the carmaker has planned for the F-cell to circumnavigate the world in 125 days on the year of the company’s 125th anniversary. 

The roughly 18,500-mile drive starts in Stuttgart, Germany, on January 30. Then the car will follow the route through Portugal, the US, Australia, China, Russia, Sweden and then Denmark. The last stop is in Germany at the start of June. Three B-class F-Cell Mercs will take part in this long drive.

According to Dr. Thomas Weber, a member of Daimler AG’s Board of Management in-charge of Group Research and Development Mercedes-Benz Cars, by circumnavigating the world, the company is highlighting the fact that its electric vehicles that use fuel cells have a high level of technical maturity.

Dr. Weber explains that this mission would not have been possible if the company used electric vehicles running solely on battery power. Similar to the time when automobiles were invented 125 years ago, there is always the matter of matching fueling infrastructures.

Dr. Weber adds that he is confident though that all parties who are part of this undertaking will find a way to exploit fully the huge potentials offered by this technology. The fuel cell vehicles will start their 125-day around-the-world journey starting June and will pass through a total of 14 countries.

The tour will begin in Stuttgart, Germany then go to southern Europe and will pass through France, followed by Spain and then Portugal. The vehicles will then resume its journey in North America, travelling through the U.S. and through Vancouver, Canada.

It will also cross the continent of Australia after which it will go to Asia. Once it reaches China, it will then go to Kazakhstan, Russia, going all the way to northern Europe ending once again in Stuttgart. The B-Class F-CELL has zero-emissions and is estimated to have a range of 400 km with possibly short refill periods.

This makes it highly fitting to be used for long journeys or even everyday travel in the city. At the center of this B-Class F-CELL is the latest electric drive system that uses fuel cell. This fuel cell is powerful, compact, and more importantly safe, making it suitable for daily use.

It also generates the needed electrical power by utilizing the chemical reaction that occurs between hydrogen and oxygen. As mentioned earlier, an important issue that needs to be addressed is that of fueling infrastructures.

Clearly there was an absence of hydrogen filling stations on the planned route. Mercedes-Benz however found an ingenious way to address this matter. Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Linde AG who will be the exclusive supplier of the needed hydrogen.

Linde AG is able to handle this responsibility and can guarantee a stable supply as it has sites and subsidiaries stationed worldwide. On routes that are considered remote, a tank vehicle will be on hand to provide the fuel cell vehicles with the required hydrogen. The tank vehicle has been made specifically for this tour, again in partnership with Linde AG.

Press Release

Around the world in 125 days - Mercedes-Benz takes off on the first circumnavigation of the world with fuel cell-powered electric vehicles

At the end of January, Mercedes-Benz will give the starter's signal for what until now is an unparalleled long-distance journey – the F-CELL World Drive. This is what the automotive manufacturer from Stuttgart announced at the North American Auto Show in Detroit. Mercedes-Benz will circumnavigate the world with the first series-produced fuel cell vehicle, the B-Class F-CELL. The aim of the F-CELL World Drive is to demonstrate the efficiency and suitability for everyday use of fuel cell technology, and at the same time campaign for the development of a global hydrogen filling station network.

To demonstrate the technical maturity of the B-Class F-CELL - which currently already enables local emission-free driving in everyday use as well as on long distances - the inventor of the automobile will be setting off on the F-CELL World Drive in the B-Class F-CELL on January 30. The journey will last 125 days, driving through four continents and the widest variety of climate zones as well as an equally diverse mixture of routes, ranging from asphalt streets to unpaved roads.

"With this unique circumnavigation of the world we are emphasizing the high level of technical maturity of our electric vehicles with fuel cell. Such an undertaking would not be possible, using purely battery-powered electric vehicles.", explains Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Development Mercedes-Benz Cars. "Today, as with the invention of automobile 125 years ago, the issue of a corresponding fueling infrastructure arises. But I am confident that together with all of the parties involved we will find a solution that enables us to fully exploit the tremendous potential of this technology."

The exceptional long-distance journey will take the fuel cell vehicles through 14 countries: from southern Europe, through France, Spain and Portugal, the cars will continue on to North America, where they will drive through both the USA as well as Vancouver, Canada. After crossing Australia the cars will reach the continent of Asia. From China they will then pass through Kazakhstan, Russia and finally northern Europe, until the tour will return to Stuttgart at the beginning of June, where the 125-day round-the-world tour will come to an end.

Around the world with hydrogen

The B-Class F-CELL combines a high, emission-free range of around 400 km with short refilling times and as such is highly suitable for both everyday use in urban areas as well as longer journeys. At the heart of the B-Class F-CELL is the new-generation electric drive system powered by a fuel cell, which is compact, powerful, safe and fully suited to everyday use. The fuel cell generates the electrical power on board from a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen.

Mercedes-Benz has adopted an ingenious approach to the lack of hydrogen filling stations on the route: acting as the exclusive supplier for the provision of hydrogen is the project partner Linde AG, which is able to guarantee a reliable supply thanks to its sites and subsidiaries located throughout the world. On remote routes a tank vehicle, which has been specially developed for the tour in cooperation with Linde AG, will be on hand to supply the fuel cell vehicles with the necessary hydrogen.

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