Hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles are getting closer to hitting the market and Mercedes will reportedly join the fray in 2017, planning to introduce a fuel cell-powered GLC.
Automakers have been working on fuel cell-powered cars for quite some time now, and some vehicles have already entered the testing phase. Such a vehicle is not yet available for purchase, but that should change soon enough. Honda and Toyota are already planning to launch hydrogen fuel cell versions of their Clarity and Mirai models, respectively, and it seems that Mercedes will join the party with a GLC model.
"The technology has matured greatly in recent years, with improved packaging and efficiency, but it remains in its infancy and is still quite expensive by conventional driveline standards," Thomas Weber, head of R & D at Mercedes, told Autocar.
Mercedes reportedly plans to introduce its first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The car will be based on the automaker's 2016 GLC and should hit showrooms in Europe the following year, i.e. 2018, as the GLC F-Cell.
"We are targeting a combined range for the fuel cell and battery of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles), along with a refueling time for the hydrogen tanks of three minutes," Weber added.
It's still too early on to know anything for sure in terms of pricing, but the upcoming GLC F-Cell is estimated to cost around £50,000, or roughly $75,200.
Fuel cell vehicle adoption, however, still faces a great challenge across the world. It's not enough to have such vehicles available in dealerships for purchase, as such an adoption would also require an entire infrastructure of hydrogen fuel sources built all over world.
This is not the first time that Mercedes has been flirting with the concept of hydrogen fuel cells, as the automaker previously toyed with the idea of a B-Class F-cell prototype. The upcoming F-Cell GLC will likely borrow some components from that prototype and sport the same fuel cell stack, placed where the gas engine usually sits.
BMW also plans to introduce a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2020, so things are expected to heat up in this area in the coming years. It remains to be seen how it will all pan out, but for now it sounds quite promising.