Mercedes-Benz is set to prove reliability of B-Class F-Cell cars via world drive

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 5, 2011

To celebrate its 125th anniversary, Mercedes-Benz plans to take the party to many places throughout the world by having three B-Class F-Cell Mercedes go on the road for a 125 day, 14 country, 18,641 mile drive.

Formula 1 racing drivers Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and David Coulthard were on hand during the first leg of the trip, as the car was driven onto the stage at Mercedes’ anniversary celebration. But for the rest of the trip, driving will be done by journalists and various dignitaries.

Daimler AG’s Chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche and German Chancellor Angela Merkel fired the opening shot during the launch. This trip will be the first time that production fuel cell vehicles will circumnavigate the earth.

With this trip, Mercedes aims to demonstrate how safe and reliable the fuel cell vehicles are in real world conditions. What’s more amazing is that the car is powered by hydrogen gas with the only exhaust being water. Mercedes’ testing of the fuel cells in vehicles started since 1994.

The major obstacle for large-scale use of these vehicles is the infrastructure. Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler AG Board Member responsible for Group Research and Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars, said that there has to be a network of hydrogen filling stations for this type of vehicle to be seen on a comprehensive scale. He added that forces would then have to join forces in order for this filling station network to be realized.

The second leg of the F-CELL World Drive will be held across North America. As part of a global effort by Mercedes-Benz to prove that B-Class F-CELL vehicles are also very reliable, the second leg of this tour will commence from Miami in the United States and then to Vancouver in Canada.

Then the three fuel cell vehicles will continue by airplane from Seattle to Australia. Aside from proving the reliability of -Class F-CELL vehicles, the second leg tour also aims to underscore the gaps in the American hydrogen infrastructure. In fact, by the end of the US tour, the three fuel cell vehicles would have been re-fueled around 35 times during 18 legs.

However, they will only be refueled one time at a public hydrogen filling station in Torrance, Los Angeles. During the three-week tour, there will be local events in San Francisco, Sacramento, Salem and Vancouver that will offer an opportunity for an intensive exchange of ideas with local media, visitors and residents, particularly with regards to fuel cell technology.

Participants would also be treated to a varied program that gives them a chance to experience the B-Class F-CELL while providing information on sustainable mobility. The tour already landed at Daimler’s car2go mobility project in Austin, Texas on March 1.

Ten days after on March 10, there will be an intensive discussion over electric mobility at Tesla Motors in Palo Alto. Tesla does not only design and build high performance electric cars, it also provides powertrain components to major OEMs.

For instance, Tesla is the source of lithium-ion batteries and chargers for Daimler’s smart fortwo electric drive as well as for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL.

At a stop in Vancouver, tour participants will serve as guests of the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC), where the fuel cell stack for the B-Class F-CELL was developed in collaboration with Daimler’s r&d staff from Germany.

Established in 2007, the company has Daimler owning 50.1 percent of its shares. Moreover, the F-CELL World Drive will meet up in Vancouver with adventurer Mike Horn and his PANGAEA Expedition, for which Mercedes-Benz is the primary sponsor. The expedition’s ship has been sailing to all continents -- including both the North and South Pole -- since October 2008. It has been led by Mike Horn and a number of young people from all over the world.

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