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Merc's new B-Class is an H-bomb

2010-11-19 07:23

WATER BABY: Mercedes’ new B-Class F-Cell burns hydrogen for stellar fuel economy and only water from its exhaust.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Model B-Class F-CELL
Engine electric
Power 100kW
Torque 290Nm
The new B-Class F-Cell unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles auto show will make hydrogen-vehicle ownership more accessible in the world’s most severe emissions regulation environment – California.

It's taken over from the A-Class F-Cell; the larger B-Class hatchback is the first fuel cell-powered electric car produced in North America and customers will rent them from R6 000 a month over three years.

Mercedes-Benz expects to deliver the first units to customers by the end of 2010 and foresees around 70 testing California’s hydrogen fuelling infrastructure by 2012.

CONTROLLING THE BIG H

Thomas Weber, Mercedes-Benz’s boss of research, said: "California, with its almost traditionally demanding and restrictive environmental regulations, is the ideal region for day-to-day operation of a genuine zero-emissions vehicle."

This F-Cell is front-wheel driven by a 100kW electric motor capable of 290Nm of torque drawing on a 1.4kWh lithium battery pack that is charged by a hydrogen fuel-cell. The chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen produces the electricity required, with the emission consequence water.

To keep the B-Class moving, hydrogen is stored in underfloor compartments whose three tanks can handle 700bar of gas pressure, equating to 12kg of fuel to give a range of 400km. Converted to traditional internal combustion numbers, the B-Class F-Cell averages 3.3 litres/100km.

GARAGE-CERTIFIED

Refilling the tanks to full pressure requires only four minutes at one of the five dedicated hydrogen fuel stations operating California.

Due to the danger of storing hydrogen under pressure, the fuelling infrastructure is still sadly lacking. Five moe filling stations are being mooted for the greater Los Angeles area though, which should bring the Californian total up to 10 by the end of 2011, making B-Class F-Cell ownership all the more appealing.

Mercedes-Benz is also at pains to point out that, despite public doubts about hydrogen safety, the F-Cell is certified to use underground and multi-story car parks, having satisfied California's safety regulations.
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