Next Mercedes hydrogen car will be launched in 2017. Development for the first fuel-cell Benz available on large commercial scale is set to be based on the recently introduced GLC SUV.
News about the all-new fuel-cell Mercedes broke out after the firm’s head of R&D himself, Thomas Weber, revealed to Autocar that the project is now complete.
“The engineering parameters are finalised. We are targeting a combined range for the fuel cell and battery of up to 600 km or 373 miles. The refuelling time for the hydrogen tanks shouldn’t exceed three minutes,” Mercedes’ chief of research and development explains. “The technology has matured greatly in recent years, with improved packaging and efficiency, but it remains in its infancy and is still quite expensive by conventional driveline standards.”
Set to be unveiled in two years time at the Frankfurt motor show, the revolutionary new model will reach Mercedes showrooms no later than 2018, costing an estimate £50,000. The technology under the bonnet will be all-new, including the fuel-cell stack which is said to be part of the next generation systems, mounted in the same place as before, though – in the engine bay area, that is, void of course of its regular combustion unit.
Expected to be named the GLC F-Cell, the hydrogen fuel-cell powered SUV is set to be available in two purchase schemes. One revolves around the already known monthly lease, familiar to hydrogen vehicles, while the other offers Mercedes clients the option to buy and subsequently own the model right from the outset.
Daimler decided against basing its next hydrogen car on the B-Class, as it has been the tradition for two generations of fuel-cell propelled running prototypes. The cost of such a model is high enough to justify going a class above to make the technology truly viable, commercially speaking. And the world-wide popularity SUVs currently enjoy certainly helped in this direction.
If you must wonder about its direct competitors, than you should know the list is short. Very short, as a matter of fact, with only the much-hyped Toyota Mirai and the all-new Honda FCV Clarity positioned as true rivals. Only in therms of propulsion, though, since the GLC F-Cell is an SUV and both the Mirai and the FCV are essentially large sedans penned in fastback configurations. BMW is also set to join the hydrogen battle with its own fuel cell model already announced for 2020.