Shortly after announcing a joint effort with Volvo Trucks to develop hydrogen fuel-cell commercial vehicles, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler confirmed that it will end fuel-cell development for passenger cars.
That means the end of production for the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell crossover, which was only sold in small numbers, and not in the United States.
The higher manufacturing costs of fuel-cell vehicles—which Daimler estimated to be around twice that of comparable battery-electric vehicles—was a major factor in the decision, reported Automotive News Europe.
Daimler is also shifting fuel-cell development resources from Mercedes to its truck division as part of the new joint venture with Volvo Trucks (which is unrelated to the automaker of the same name).
The two companies have said they plan large-scale manufacturing of fuel cells for commercial vehicles in the second half of this decade.
The F-Cell was a version of the GLC crossover, but it also shared some components with the battery-electric EQC. Deliveries began in Germany in 2018.
Like the EQC, the F-Cell was initially promised for the U.S., but placed on extended delay. While the U.S. missed out on the F-Cell, the EQC is at least still scheduled to arrive here in 2021.
The F-Cell was different from other fuel-cell vehicles so far in that it had a 7.4-kilowatt onboard charger and 13.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack, making it a plug-in hybrid. It had a range of 267 miles on hydrogen, with another 32 miles on the battery pack (based on the European testing cycle).
Combining plug-in capability and fuel cells is something Toyota has resisted for the next-generation Mirai because it doesn't apply pressure to improve and use hydrogen infrastructure.
Infrastructure remains a major obstacle for fuel-cell passenger cars. The current-generation Mirai is only available in California, as that's the only state with sufficient fueling stations. Sales of the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Hyundai Nexo are limited to California as well.
Issues like this may explain why automakers are beginning to shift their focus to fuel-cell commercial vehicles. Honda has partnered with Isuzu to develop them, Toyota has built a small batch of prototypes, and Hyundai has shown a sleek concept truck.