Mercedes-Benz says it has made its first deliveries of the GLC F-Cell, a fuel cell and battery-electric SUV that can run on hydrogen and also as a plug-in hybrid. Government agencies and other organizations in select markets in Germany get it first, with businesses and private customers able to rent the vehicle starting next spring.
The first examples are going to national and regional ministries, the National Organisation Hydrogen (NOW) and H2 Mobility initiatives and the Deutsche Bahn railway operator, with more deliveries planned later this year to businesses like Air Liquide and Shell, plus the cities of Stuttgart and Hamburg. Next spring, other businesses and private customers will be able to drive one through the Mercedes-Benz Rent program, available from one of seven GLC F-Cell outlets throughout the country.
Parent company Daimler says its work with the H2 Mobility joint venture calls for expanding the network of hydrogen fueling stations in Germany from 50 to around 100 by the end of 2019, with a long-term goal of 400 stations. Daimler is also part of Hydrogen Mobility Europe, which combines initiatives under way in Germany, France, the U.K. and Scandinavia, and says it has received funding partly from a European Union research program.
Mercedesdebuted the fuel-cell SUV last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show as the followup to the 2010 B-Class F-Cell. It’s equipped with two tanks holding nearly 10 pounds of hydrogen, good for around 267 miles of hydrogen-only range, or just under 300 miles on a fully charged battery, though those measurements are on the NEDC test cycle.
The vehicle can operate exclusively from the hydrogen fuel cell, which charges the battery; via battery-only, which is ideal for short distances; and in electric-fuel cell hybrid mode, with power peaks handled by the battery. In addition, charging the high-voltage battery can help maximize overall range or create power reserves.