Mercedes-Benz may bring fuel-cell versions of the C- and E-Class models

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 31, 2011

Everybody loves electric cars but we have to admit that some of them are quite expensive. Still, there is hope that by 2015, the electric cars will cost no more than a four-cylinder diesel hybrid that meets the Euro 6 emissions standard. At least, this is what Herbert Kohler, head of e-drive and future mobility at Daimler believes.

Kohler also added that: "A few years ago, the price was at about 1,500 euros per kilowatt hour [for a lithium ion battery]. In the midterm we should be at a level of 400 euros,"

According to the same Kohler, Daimler is currently working fast and hard to get more fuel cell cars on the road. As you may know already, the German car manufacturer spent the past year running a test fleet of its B-class fuel cells cars. Now it plans to launch a second-generation of the car, which will use the new front-wheel drive architecture.

Furthermore, Daimler may also make fuel-cell versions of the C- and E-class luxury models. "For gas-producers in general, fuel-cells are a very profitable business-case" Kohler said.

"I expect that there will be a network of 1,000 fuel-stations in Germany alone in the mid-term. This means that you will find a fuel-station for your fuel cell within 30 kilometers."

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell is the brand’s first foray into manufacturing a series-produced fuel cell car capable of being driven on the road. While it has the same performance as that of a vehicle with a 2.0-liter petrol engine, it is more environment-friendly making it suitable even for a daily drive.

The drive system has zero emissions and uses an estimated 3.3 liters of diesel fuel for every 100 kilometers under the New European Driving Cycle. Production of the B-Class F-Cell is expected to start by late 2009 with only a small batch.

The first 200 units are to be delivered to customers both in Europe and the U.S., starting in early 2010. As expected from the brand, this new vehicle powered by a fuel cell offers a high level of safety and comfort but without compromising any of its interior space or even boot capacity.

Even with the use of the fuel cell, driving pleasure is still present as the electric motor delivers 100 kW (136 hp) of output with 290 Nm of maximum torque, available even from the first rotation. As a result, the B-Class F-Cell displays dynamic handling properties that are even better compared to vehicles powered with a 2-liter petrol engine.

Even then, the fuel cell drive has no emissions and consumes diesel fuel at around 3.3 litres/100 kilometres (NEDC). With a maximum 400-kilometer range and average refuelling time of three minutes, this eco-friendly model allows for zero-emission even when on long drives.

According to Dr. Thomas Weber, 2009 will be the year that the brand will be launching new milestones when it comes to sustainable mobility. Dr. Weber is currently a member of Daimler AG’s Board of Management and is responsible for Group Research and Development for Mercedes-Benz Cars. Dr. Weber adds that the B-Class F-Cell will take the lead in becoming the first vehicle powered by a fuel cell and manufactured under conditions similar to series production cars.

At the technological heart of this vehicle is the high-performance and compact fuel cell system. Under the system, gaseous hydrogen is made to react with atmospheric oxygen at 700 bar in order to create the current needed by its electric motor.

It even has very good cold-start capability as it can start at temperatures going as low as –25 degrees Celsius. This drive system was newly developed unlike the F-Cell A-Class first shown in 2004. With the new drive system, engineers at Mercedes-Benz were able to improve a number of features like comfort, starting characteristics, operating range, output, reliability, and torque.

As such, the B-Class F-Cell provides driving pleasure with day-to-day suitability and all without local emissions. Much like hybrids that utilize combustion engines, the fuel cell car has a lithium-ion battery that delivers 35 kW output with a 1.4 kWh capacity that can increase power and recoup any braking energy. Unlike traditional batteries, lithium-ion ones have compact dimensions, long service life, amazing recharge efficiency, and of course, high performance.

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