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The Mercedes-Benz “B-Cell”: Introducing the next generation of fuel cell cars

  • The Mercedes-Benz B-Class “F-Cell” is extending the family of fuel cell vehicles from DaimlerChrysler
  • The concept of the Compact Sports Tourer with sandwich floor is predestined for emission-free fuel cell drive
  • More than ten years of the automotive fuel cell: DaimlerChrysler, the pioneer, is pressing ahead with development

Geneva, Mar 02, 2005 At the 2005 Geneva Motor Show, DaimlerChrysler, the pioneer of fuel cell* drive, is presenting the next generation of its fuel cell vehicles: the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is extending the family of fuel cell vehicles to the segment of sports tourers. The B-Class, an automobile for travel, family and leisure, incorporates a unique sandwich concept developed by Mercedes-Benz that makes it predestined for this type of drive unit. Sporty, dynamic driving is reconcilable with emission-free operation, as is impressively demonstrated by the technical data: the high-torque electric motor will develop more than 100 kW; this amounts to 35 kW more than the power unit of the predecessor generation, the A-Class “F-Cell”.

*Explanation of principal technical terms in the accompanying “Sustainability navigator”.

Thanks to a reduction in fuel consumption and a further enhanced storage capacity, the operating range has now been increased to almost 400 km (250 miles). The components’ reliability and longevity have also been further improved.

“With this car, we are continuing our highly successful practical tests on an even larger scale,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, member of DaimlerChrysler’s Board of Management with responsibility for Research and Technology and for the development of the Mercedes Car Group.

The DaimlerChrysler researchers and engineers have been working since the early 1990s towards automotive application of this technology. In 1994 the first fuel cell vehicle, NECAR 1, was presented; more than twenty further research vehicles and prototypes have since followed. The size and weight of the drive system have been considerably reduced, while the vehicles’ performance and reliability have been steadily enhanced. 180 patent applications in the field of fuel cell technology underscore the Group’s pioneering achievements. With the Mercedes-Benz B-Class “F-Cell”, a further significant milestone has been reached along the road to market maturity for the fuel cell.

DaimlerChrysler has grouped together its hybrid* and fuel cell drive research and development activities in the respective competence centers in order to press ahead with these technologies. This measure will allow the current projects to be incorporated into the strategic cooperations with General Motors (hybrid) and Ballard/Ford (fuel cell) in an ideal manner; this framework also creates an efficient platform for the strategic integration of the findings from research and development projects into series production.

The world’s most extensive practical tests with fuel cell vehicles

In 2003, DaimlerChrysler launched the world’s most extensive series of practical tests for the fuel cell in cars, vans and regular service buses. More than 100 fuel cell vehicles are currently in everyday application, providing DaimlerChrysler’s engineers with invaluable information for the ongoing development of this future-oriented technology. This involves optimization of the vehicles and their components, the establishment of an infrastructure, and the increased acceptance of hydrogen technology among drivers and passengers.

Since 2003, thirty Mercedes-Benz “Citaro” city buses with fuel cell drive have been on the move in regular route service in ten major European cities. Three buses are also in operation in Perth, Australia, and another three will shortly commence service in Peking, China. These vehicles must prove their worth in the most varied of climatic conditions. The city buses alone have already covered more than 500,000 km (300,000 miles) and transported more than two million passengers, who have been convinced by the advantages of this quiet, emission-free technology. Several vans with fuel cell drive are currently being used in day-to-day delivery operations with dispatching companies in Germany and the USA.

Since late 2004, sixty Mercedes-Benz A-Class “F-Cell” cars have been in operation with customers in Germany, the USA, Japan and Singapore in the course of these practical tests. In this first test phase, approximately 300,000 km (190,000 miles) have already been covered under highly diverse conditions and documented with these vehicles. In the long term, the fuel cell provides the best opportunities for securing uncompromisingly environment-friendly mobility for the automobile: the fuel cell runs on either pure hydrogen* or hydrogen media, and is thus a genuine zero-emission power unit: electrical energy is released in a chemical reaction between the hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen to drive an electric motor. Moreover, the fuel cell has an efficiency factor approximately twice that of the internal combustion engine.

The fuel cell is the key technology for emission-free driving of the future and is the long-term objective of DaimlerChrysler’s five-stage “Energy for the Future” roadmap. DaimlerChrysler is continuing to optimize the internal combustion engine, since the potential of gasoline and diesel engines has by no means been exhausted. The aim is to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, while at the same time enhancing driving pleasure, power development and comfort. DaimlerChrysler is also committed to optimizing fuel quality worldwide and is supporting the fuel evolution from crude oil to largely CO2-neutral* fuels derived from biomass. Hydrid drive is a significant interim solultion along the road to emission-free mobility with the fuel cell.