Mercedes can now lay claim to the world's first fuel cell in series production, the B-Class f-cell.

The initial run of 200 models will be produced at the end of the year and will go into the hands of the lucky few who have leased it in the U.S. and Europe sometime in the first part of 2010.

The vehicle combines a hydrogen fuel cell with an electric motor and manages to run with zero emissions.  According to Mercedes, the powertrain is comparable in performance to a 2 liter 4 cylinder gasoline powered vehicle but it can manage the equivalent of 86.6 mpg with city and highway numbers combined.

The electric portion of the power train produces a respectable 134 hp and 214 lb ft of torque.  It has a range of over 250 miles before needing additional hydrogen and an entire fill up is claimed to take only three minutes.

Fuel cell vehicles have previously had difficulty starting in cold weather, but Mercedes has the problem in check.  The B-Class is capable of starting in temps down to minus 25 Celsius.

The vehicle employs a a 35 kw lithium ion battery to capture and store any energy wasted during acceleration and to recover energy while braking.  The battery serves the additional purpose of providing a back up power source for the electric motor.

While the B-Class packs a considerable amount of hardware, Mercedes claim that the interior and trunk space is not compromised offering the same capacity as the standard B-Class vehicle.

The B-Class F-cell is a vehicle that Mercedes hopes will be successful and is a step towards sustainable mobility.  As Mercedes said, "The B-Class F-cell is taking a pioneering role as the world's first fuel cell powered automobile to be produce under series production conditions."