Fuel-Cell-Powered Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Makes North American Debut at the L.A. Show

A fuel-cell-powered Mercedes-Benz F-Cell production car is making its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, open to the public December 4-13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. During the Show, Mercedes-Benz is also launching the SLS AMG supercar, the fuel-sipping E350 BlueTEC and two fuel-saving hybrids – the S400 HYBRID and the ML450 HYBRID – as well as the impressive SPLITVIEW dual-content viewing technology.

In 2010, a small fleet of Mercedes-Benz F-Cell cars will be delivered to customers in the U.S. and Europe as part of a special lease program. Fuel cell power is one of several fuel-efficient choices offered by Mercedes-Benz, the global leader in diesel passenger vehicles. In addition to an entire generation of super-clean, quiet BlueTEC diesel cars and the new hybrid vehicles making their debut at the L.A. Show, Mercedes-Benz also offers cars powered by compressed natural gas in a number of markets.

F-Cell Makes Its Own Power

Essentially an electric car that makes its own power on board, the new Mercedes-Benz F-Cell has a range of about 240 miles before it needs refuelling. Running on compressed hydrogen, the F-Cell boasts an equivalent fuel mileage of 86.6 city-highway combined miles per gallon. With water as the F-Cell’s only emission, hydrogen and air react without combustion in the fuel cell stack, producing current to run an electric motor that powers the front wheels. The electric motor is rated at 136 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque.

The F-Cell is also equipped with a 35-kilowatt lithium-ion battery that stores recovered braking energy, helps provide instant acceleration and ensures fast starting in very cold weather. The hydrogen gas is stored in high-pressure tanks that can be refuelled in about three minutes.

To produce electrical current, the F-Cell car combines stored hydrogen with oxygen from the surrounding air. In a single fuel cell, a platinum-coated proton-exchange membrane separates the two gases and promotes a controlled, "slow-motion" chemical reaction, which releases energy in the form of electricity. Using a number of individual fuel cells makes a high-voltage fuel cell stack that can power vehicles – from passenger cars to city buses.

F-Cell Features Innovative Vehicle Design, Too

Based on the popular B-Class small car offered in other world markets, the new F-Cell features a space-saving double floor that allows the entire fuel cell system, including the hydrogen tanks, to be sandwiched between the two floors. With continuous longitudinal frame members running the length of the car, the double floor design also provides impressive crash safety benefits. Mercedes-Benz engineers have refined its crash safety through more than 30 crash tests.

The F-Cell offers the interior space of larger sedans and wagons, despite its compact outside dimensions. The body is only 168 inches long, about the size of many compact cars. Inside however, the F-Cell offers more shoulder-room, legroom and headroom than other cars of comparable size. Its 109-inch wheelbase provides rear seat occupants with knee room rivalling many luxury sedans.

The new F-Cell car takes the advantages of several vehicle types and blends them into one sharp-looking, sporty and versatile vehicle that’s equally at home on long trips or short runs to the shopping mall. Depending on the number and position of the seats, its load capacity can go from 19 cubic feet up to 60 cubic feet (with rear seats down), which equals many sport utilities. The maximum load length is more than 6 ½ feet.

Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell Leadership

In the early 1990s, when other auto companies were considering laboratory tabletop experiments with fuel cells, Mercedes-Benz was already giving journalists the opportunity to ride in fuel-cell-powered research vehicles. Years later, when a number of automakers were rolling out fragile prototypes, Mercedes set a coast-to-coast record with the NECAR5 fuel cell test car based on a Mercedes-Benz A-Class (a compact vehicle not offered in the U.S. market). The NECAR5 used a methanol reformer, fuel cell stack, electric motor and electronic controls – all mounted under its double floor. The coast-to-coast record car achieved nearly 300 miles between its methanol refueling stops.

About Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz USA, headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of all Mercedes-Benz and Maybach products in the United States. For more than forty years, MBUSA has taken pride in its commitment to the customer by providing superior quality luxury vehicles coupled with outstanding customer support. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found on the Internet at www.mbusa.com and www.maybachusa.com.