Electromobility has many facets: And hydrogen is one of them.

The potential of fuel cell technology, and of hydrogen for energy storage, is beyond question. Hydrogen plays a major role in the discussion of ways in which to reach worldwide climatic targets.

It is one of the ways in which the range of fuels in the transport sector can be extended in a climate-friendly manner: because it is particularly with the help of hydrogen generated from renewable energy that harmful CO₂ emissions can be significantly reduced. Operation of a hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle causes neither local pollutant nor carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions.

With the constantly growing proportion of renewable energy, hydrogen will play an increasingly important part in the overall energy system and therefore become more and more attractive for the mobility sector. Alongside the current focus on battery technology and the rollout of the model initiative under the EQ brand, the company is continuing with its activities in the field of fuel cell technology.

Following the launch of what is now already the fourth generation of the battery-electric smart, the pre-series model of the GLC F-CELL is a further milestone by Daimler AG on the road to emission-free driving, and underlines the company's commitment in this field of technology.

The pre-series GLC F-CELL

Mercedes-Benz has already gained experience with hydrogen-powered electric vehicles over several vehicle generations, and absolved millions of test kilometers around the globe. The pre-series models of the new GLC F-CELL vehicles represent a world first in which a fuel cell operated electric car uses a lithium-ion battery as an additional energy source that can be externally charged by means of plug-in technology.

Components of the fuel cell:

Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH is based in Kirchheim/Nabern in the Stuttgart metropolitan area. This wholly owned subsidiary developed the complete fuel cell unit and hydrogen storage system for the GLC F-CELL. This is also where the first prototype vehicles were built, the pre-series models then being produced at the Mercedes-Benz Tech Centre in Sindelfingen.

The Mercedes-Benz home plant in Untertürkheim is responsible for production of the complete fuel cell system. The centerpiece of the fuel cell system, the fuel cell stack consisting of around 400 fuel cells, is created at Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell (MBFC), which operates the world's first plant dedicated entirely to the production and assembly of fuel cell stacks in British Columbia.

The hydrogen tank system is produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim. The lithium-ion battery comes from the wholly-owned subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE in Kamenz/Saxony, Germany.

The infrastructure is essential

A full-coverage infrastructure is essential to the success of electric mobility. The spread of both charging stations and hydrogen filling stations is proceeding apace around the world. Whether at home, at work, on the road or when shopping: there are various ways to supply electric vehicles with power.

Also when it comes to the H2 infrastructure, progress is constantly being made. Together with its partners in the H2 Mobility joint venture, Mercedes-Benz has already drawn up a concrete action plan. The network of H2 filling stations is scheduled to reach 100 by the end of 2019. By 2023, there will be a network of up to 400 hydrogen filling stations. Similar infrastructure projects are being promoted in Europe, the USA and Japan.

Cooperation for non-mobile fuel cell systems

Convinced of the potential of fuel cell technology and of hydrogen as a storage medium in the context of the overall energy system, the company is taking a comprehensive approach and expanding its development activities into application areas beyond the automobile. Together with the market leaders Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Power Innovations (PI), a LiteOn company, Mercedes-Benz AG with its subsidiary company Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH and the support of MBRDNA will develop prototype systems for (emergency) power supply to computer centres and other stationary applications, and integrate automobile fuel cell systems to this end.

Highlights: Key facts

Unique hybrid combination: With EQ Power as its technical designation, the latest electric model in the Mercedes-Benz range to be destined for subsequent series production is doubly electrifying, for as a world first, it is set to combine innovative fuel-cell and battery technology into a fully electric plug-in hybrid. Thanks to F-CELL technology, the only local emissions are water vapour.

Completely new fuel cell system: Compared to the preceding generation, the fuel cell system is 30 percent more compact and for the first time fits into a conventional engine compartment. Further improvements over the B Class F-CELL: 40 percent more drive power and 90 percent less platinum. The weight is also around 25 percent lower.

Full day-to-day suitability: Thanks to around 350 Nm of torque and an output of around 147 kW, the pre-series model of the GLC F-CELL offers plenty of driving pleasure. Operating ranges are 437 km in H2 mode (NEDC in HYBRID mode, measures in the presence of TÜV) and 49 km in battery-electric mode (NEDC in BATTERY mode). Thanks to 700 bar tanking technology, the GLC F-CELL is refuelled in around three minutes.

Safety as standard: Standard equipment is extensive, and includes Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, the Lane Tracking package with Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist, the Parking package with 360° camera and COMAND Online with traffic sign recognition. Passive safety also meets the highest expectations: Apart from its usual, extensive programme of crash tests, Mercedes-Benz applies particularly stringent safety standards to the battery and all components containing hydrogen.

From the fuel cell pioneer: Mercedes-Benz presented its first fuel cell vehicle in as early as 1994 - the NECA 1. Many further vehicles followed, including the A-Class F-CELL fleet (2003). In 2011, special attention focused on the F-CELL World Drive, the first round-the-world journey in fuel-cell vehicles. In 2015, the F 015 Luxury in Motion study presented an F-CELL plug-in hybrid drive system designed for 1100 kilometers of emission-free driving.

Constant progress with the H2 infrastructure: On 5th March 2018, the Total filling station in Ingolstadt was taken into operation as the 45th German hydrogen filling station. Together with its partners in the H2 Mobility joint venture, Mercedes-Benz has already drawn up a specific action plan. The network of H2 filling stations is scheduled to reach 100 by the end of 2019. By 2023 there is to be a network of up to 400 hydrogen filling stations. Similar infrastructure projects are also under way at European and international level (especially in Japan, but also in the USA and S. Korea).