The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class crossover will be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain option, but Mercedes apparently isn't stopping there.

The small crossover--which replaces the old GLK-Class--will also reportedly be the basis for Mercedes' first production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.

And this model will go on sale next year, said Mercedes R&D boss Dr. Thomas Weber.

DON'T MISS: Mercedes-Benz Could Launch Next Fuel-Cell Car In 2017 (Mar 2014)

"We are in the middle of the car's roll-out phase right now," Weber said of the fuel-cell GLC in an interview with Autocar during the 2016 Detroit Auto Show last week.

The fuel-cell variant--possibly to be called GLC F-Cell--is expected to have a range of 250 to 300 miles, and Autocar estimates a price of around £50,000 ($71,000).

Its fuel-cell stack will reportedly be mounted under the hood, where the internal-combustion engine normally sits. Hydrogen tanks would presumably be mounted elsewhere in the vehicle.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

What's unclear is whether Mercedes plans to build the GLC F-Cell in large volumes, or keep numbers small like the existing Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell and Toyota Mirai, and the upcoming Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.

If it is offered in the U.S., Mercedes would likely restrict sales to certain areas of California, as other carmakers have done due to lack of fueling infrastructure.

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler has had a long history of fuel-cell research and development. In January 2013, it partnered with Ford and Nissan to pool resources in an effort to reduce costs for all three makers.

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It's one of several fuel-cell partnerships among carmakers, which also includes an alliance between General Motors and Honda, and another between Toyota and Mercedes-rival BMW.

Mercedes previously demonstrated a fleet of B-Class F-Cell prototypes in the U.S., and previously discussed 2017 as a possible launch date for a production model back in 2014.

Since then, the company has advanced plans for battery-electric cars, and it will offer plug-in hybrid version of all its volume models as well.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

The GLC's platform was designed to accommodate a variety of powertrains--including that of the plug-in hybrid GLC350e Mercedes previewed last year.

The platform will also support an all-electric crossover--possibly called ELC.

MORE: Mercedes 'ELC' To Compete With Audi e-Tron Electric SUV In 2018: Report (Dec 2015)

This model will reportedly use a heavily-modified version of the GLC body, with a flat battery pack under the floor, and at least two electric motors (one per axle).

The ELC is expected to arrive at the end of 2018, or about a year after the GLC F-Cell.


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