Mercedes-Benz Shows Off Fuel Cell Car

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When the Frankfurt Motor Show officially opens on Thursday, the press and the public will get a first look at the new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell from Daimler. The preproduction model shows off the fuel-cell operated electric car that the company expects to have available to U.S. customers in 2019.

Mercedes-Benz is claiming that the GLC F-Cell is the first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to include a plug-in lithium-ion battery. The company is including the vehicle under its EQ brand. By 2022, Daimler expects to introduce 10 battery-electric vehicles.

The F-Cell’s electric motor generates 197 horsepower and the vehicle’s range when in hybrid mode is 437 km (about 271 miles). On battery power alone, the range is 49 km (about 30 miles). The top speed is electronically limited to 99 mph. Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles emit no carbon dioxide

As the Mercedes-Benz press release accurately points out, “Infrastructure is key.” A network of hydrogen filling stations needs to be created where drivers can refill the 4.4-kg fuel tank. The company notes:

The spread of both charging stations and hydrogen filling stations is proceeding apace around the world. … The network of H2 filling stations is [in Germany] scheduled to reach 100 by the end of next year. By 2023, there will be a network of up to 400 hydrogen filling stations. Similar infrastructure projects are being promoted in Europe, the USA and Japan.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are just 39 retail hydrogen fueling stations in the United States. Most are located in California and the Energy Department expects more than 50 retail stations by the end of this year.

The base model GLC is a luxury midsize sport utility vehicle with a base price of $39,150. Mercedes-Benz has not yet announced a price on the F-Cell version.

Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $57,500, and the vehicle is also available on a lease ($369 a month with a $2,499 down payment). Honda introduced its fuel-cell Clarity last December, and that vehicle is available only to lease ($369 a month with a $2,868 down payment). Both vehicles come with $15,000 worth of fuel and 21 days of rental car service over a period of three years.