Mercedes-Benz Rolls Out Fuel-Cell SUV to Tackle Tech Hurdles
Mercedes-Benz will soon start handing over its latest fuel-cell electric car to fleet customers to keep a toe-hold in a promising technology that’s been hampered by the difficulties of storing and refueling hydrogen.
Other carmakers like BMW AG are working on prototypes that could offer better driving ranges for larger electric vehicles.Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand is considering a small-scale production of fuel cell cars in 2020.
Infrastructure in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, remains patchy. A joint venture dubbed H2 Mobility, which includes Daimler, Linde AG, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA, plans to have around 100 hydrogen fueling stations across the country by next year. That number could roughly quadruple by 2023, according to Daimler.
Fuel cells convert chemical energy into electricity through a reaction of hydrogen with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Mercedes’s model, with a driving range of 478 kilometers (297 miles) for fuel cell and battery, takes about three minutes to replenish the tank.
Mercedes-Benz last month unveiled the brand’s first all-electric vehicle, the EQC crossover, as part of a push to roll out 10 purely battery-powered vehicles by 2022. The division expects all-electric cars to account for between 15 percent and 25 percent of global deliveries by 2025.
While battery-electric or fuel-cell cars didn’t emit any emissions on the road, it’s another story during their manufacture, Schenk said. Energy demands for production of cars with fuel cells or high-voltage batteries trigger significantly higher emissions of carbon dioxide, a contributor to climate-warming, he said. During the life cycle on the road, plug-in hybrids can save emissions of as much as 55 percent compared to combustion engines, even if the electricity for charging the battery doesn’t come from renewable energy sources.