Few automakers have treaded into the hydrogen fuel cell waters for production cars, but Mercedes-Benz is about to, and with a twist on the formula. The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell is set to be the first plug-in electric that also runs on hydrogen.
The automaker announced Tuesday at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt the pre-production testing models of the GLC F-Cell, with planned sales set for the U.S. in 2019. Models being tried now feature a 197-horsepower setup that has a 13.8 kWh battery capacity and 4.4 kg of hydrogen storage. Plug it into a charger, and the GLC F-Cell’s batteries can charge in as little as an hour and a half and give approximately 30 miles of range. That’s when the hydrogen is then used to power the car to a top speed of 99 mph.
But other than that, it’s much like a Mercedes-Benz GLC that you can buy today, just not in gasoline-powered SUV form. The company says it’s learned from its previous fuel cell efforts to reduce the size of the tanks and improve performance, thereby not adversely impeding practicality.
Currently, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Hyundai Tucson FCV and Toyota Mirai are available in California, and mostly as lease-only vehicles ranging from roughly $300 to $500 per month for a 36-month lease. Count on a Mercedes-Benz costing considerably more and likely limited to where hydrogen filling stations are more accessible.
The hydrogen fueling infrastructure is also confined to Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas, too, although plans are on the board for more stations. But the rest of the country remains pretty much out of the loop on hydrogen.
Still, Mercedes-Benz seems intent on exploring all fuels and seeing what clicks with consumers and regulators.