While most major automakers are working on new battery-powered electric cars and plug-in hybrids, some are still investigating the benefits of more advanced fuel cell vehicles that use a hydrogen fuel cell stack to convert hydrogen into usable electric power.
One of the leaders in this field is Mercedes-Benz, which we reported earlier this month was forming a partnership with German gas and engineering firm Linde to build a total of 20 hydrogen fueling stations in Germany as part of a trial spanning the next three years.
Additionally, Mercedes’ parent company Daimler also announced recently the development of its own hydrogen fuel cell stack as well as plans to start building them at a new plant in Vancouver, Canada by 2013.
Now the boss of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, has revealed that a mass-produced fuel cell vehicle would be launched by Mercedes-Benz in 2014, one year earlier than previously expected. The decision to bring forward the launch date of its first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle, according to Zetsche, was due to the success of the three Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cells that recently took on a global tour challenge.
"We intended to go for volume production in 2015, but because of the experience of the world tour we have pulled forward," Zetsche told reporters at a special presentation in New York this week.
He went on to reveal that the car, most likely based on the next-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class, would have a driving range of 250 miles and would not priced comparably with a range of diesel-electric hybrids coming onto the market from next year onwards.
Of course, the biggest hindrance to the proliferation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is not the technology itself, but rather the necessary hydrogen fuel infrastructure, which currently is non-existent in most parts of the globe.