By on November 13, 2018

Mercedes-Benz says it has begun deliveries of the GLC F-Cell, a battery-electric vehicle that can run on hydrogen or a stored electrical charge. That would make it the most sensible hydrogen vehicle currently in existence, which isn’t saying much.

At any rate, it doesn’t really matter because you’ll probably never see one.

The GLC F-Cell is currently bound for government agencies in Germany, likely to be utilized for green posturing. After that, it rolls out to select corporate fleets before becoming available, as a rental, to Germans in highly specific markets — you know, the scant few with hydrogen infrastructures already in place.

We’re not exactly crippled to learn we’ll never have access to another fuel cell vehicle, but it’s a shame Daimler is going to leave those absolutely gorgeous 80s-era graphics emblazoned across the doors in Europe.

Mercedes first showcased the fuel-cell SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year. Intended as a followup to the B-Class F-Cell — which is now almost a decade old — Benz claims its holding tanks is sufficient for 267 miles of hydrogen-only range, or just under 300 miles on a fully charged battery, using the NEDC test cycle. While it’s nice to see Daimler continuing to progress as a member of Hydrogen Mobility Europe, it seems like a pointless waste of the EU’s funds, given the complete absence of demand for these cars among the general public.

Still, the automaker isn’t giving up on the technology. As part of its joint venture with H2 Mobility, Mercedes says it wants to double the number of hydrogen fueling stations in Germany by the end of 2019. Unfortunately, this only means an additional 50 stations — explaining why the company is being so selective about the GLC F-Cell’s availability.

[Images: Mercedes-Benz]

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13 Comments on “Invisible Markets: Mercedes-Benz Launches Hydrogen-powered GLC F-Cell...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “F-Cell” = fool cell, to use Mr Musk’s term.

  • avatar

    Don’t quite know why hydrogen isn’t viable. Easy to make from water or natural gas just about anywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The answer is a long one, but:

      1. It’s not easy to make.
      2. The energy to produce hydrogen is very high.
      3. H2 must be stored at high pressure, cold, and transported by truck.
      4. The cost to operate a HFC vehicle is the same as a Hellcat, in $/mile.
      5. The fuel dispensers routinely freeze up at the point of delivery.
      6. It takes electricity to produce hydrogen, then it is converted back to electricity in a fuel cell, which must also be backed up by a battery pack to provide surge power. It makes no sense.
      7. Dispensing stations are very expensive to build, and consequently rare.
      8. Read this nightmare real-life scenario:
      9. Fuel cell cars are exceptionally expensive to produce, and even when the mfr is losing money, they’re still charging $50-60k for a slow mid-size car.
      10. Pure electric propulsion is so much simpler. Despite their shortcomings, many people are finding EVs very easy to live with.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with your overall argument but I don’t agree with a lot of your points which are mostly fallacies and not arguments as such. Production of Hydrogen is already done in a huge way in the chemical industry, but it’s a byproduct and mostly used as fuel for boilers.

        Difference being this is hydrogen GAS. Compressing hydrogen into a liquid requires a big, expensive compressor, as well as a system of heat exchangers, cooling towers, and probably industrial refrigeration units. And all of this is made of exotic metal alloys that can handle hydrogen at 10,000 psi and hundreds of degrees below zero.

        And that’s just the production side. Distribution is a whole ‘nother investment. And the tank in your car has to meet cumbersome legal requirements as a pressure vessel. And your fuel cell contains tens of thousands of dollars worth of platinum or other noble metals.

        The hell are you thinking, automakers?

        • 0 avatar

          A truly leakage free, end to end, container for it in pure form, is perhaps the most fundamentally difficult challenge of all. To the point where it just may make overall sense to bind it to carbon for the pre-burn distribution phase, even if weird fears of the latter requires that it be sequestered at great expense, post burn.

          The best case I have heard for H2, is that it is conceptually possible to make it without a CO2 footprint (nukes) in quantities massive enough that the prices everywhere in the world get low enough for people to leave oil in the ground.

          That’s just not going to happen with BEVs, since charging infrastructures will just be bombed in war zones. Resulting in every gallon of gas not burned by some Tesla driving San Franciscan, being burned by an African militia instead. Meaning, no amount of electrification will have any ultimate impact on CO2 emissions. Just on where it’s being emitted.

          If the “rich world” truly cared about reducing CO2 emissions as much as some like to pretend they do, H2 could, in theory, be made cheap enough to substitute for fossil fuels, even for Congolese militia usage.

          It takes a bit of naivete to believe any of that will actually happen, and demographics will still end up getting you in the end; but it’s not straight up logically impossible (assuming one believe Japanese demographics are sustainable, which happens to take a similar amount of naivete…)

      • 0 avatar

        I’m no fan of Hydrogen vehicles, but I could see the issue with Hyrdrogen-maggedon mentioned in the Edmunds report happening due to insufficient supply lines. But that’s no help when you can’t get fuel for your car. Ultimately, we’ve done a very good job of developing and distributing liquid fuels over the decades, it will be somewhat difficult to switch to another energy source.

        But, I would think the number one deterrent to all of this is that Hydrogen gas is very explosive. If it were to take off, I imagine horrible accidents from the average guy doing something stupid while re-fueling.

    • 0 avatar

      It takes more energy to break apart water into hydrogen and oxygen than you can get from burning the hydrogen. You’re already net energy negative before you’ve even put fuel into the car.

  • avatar

    WTF F-cell means? Tesla does not make F-cells. WTF Mercedes is thinking?

  • avatar

    Hydrogen is fuel of the future – in fusion reactors.

    There’s a political market enamored by this tech’s circus trick of pure water coming out the exhaust pipe. The peanut gallery falls for it every time. Suckers.

    • 0 avatar

      If one genuinely believe the stuff of life, carbon, is some sort of danger, H2 does start making some sort of sense as an energy distribution medium.

      Which translates to: If one is crazy to begin with, crazy stuff just may start to seem reasonable.

  • avatar

    My first car was a GLC. I wish I still had it. Mazda, Mercedes, same thing, right?

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