2010 B-Class: Marking a New Beginning

Nedzad September 11, 2007

F600 Hygenius
The F600 Hygenius, presented at Tokyo Motor Show 2005, was fuel-cell powered concept car.

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Mercedes-Benz will begin limited serial production within three years of a small car powered by a zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell, the premium brand of DaimlerChrysler said on Tuesday.

Small-scale series production of the B-Class F-Cell will begin in early 2010, the carmaker said at the Frankfurt car show as part of its campaign to polish its environmental credentials by rolling out cleaner and more fuel-efficient cars.

It is still deciding how to market the car whose cost will far outstrip that of conventional rivals, said Thomas Weber, the group’s research head and development chief at Mercedes.

“We will have this auto at the starting line and bring it to market at whatever conditions (we determine). We will certainly not be able to sell it in normal showrooms,” he told Reuters.

“A fuel cell car will be far removed from the cost position of a traditional car in 2010, but it is emissions free, it goes 400 km (240 miles), it has sensational acceleration from 0 to 100 (km/hour) and it consumes less than the equivalent of three litres” of diesel fuel per 100 km driven, he added.

The new B-Class car’s electric engine will generate top output of 136 horsepower and perform on par with a two-litre petrol engine, the company said.

Weber said Mercedes may end up leasing the car to customers or institutions at prices that still don’t cover the cost.

Prices have to fall drastically as well if automakers expect buyers to switch to hydrogen-powered cars, because history shows consumers won’t pay more for vehicles whose performance lags what is already on the road.

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