The Fuel Cell as Key Technology
Mercedes-Benz is advancing the fuel cell technology with great effort. The technology offers clear advantages – even compared to battery-powered vehicles. A new model is slated to be presented in 2017. The sourcing in Procurement is underway.
An investment of about € 500 million in a second battery factory at the Kamenz location, the fourth-generation smart electric drive in 2016. Battery-powered vehicles are an important element of locally emission-free driving for Daimler AG. At the same time, the company is working intensively on the new generation of Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles powered by a fuel cell. Fuel cell technology is an integral part of the Daimler powertrain strategy. Not least, because of its advantages over other drive systems: long ranges with short refueling times of just three minutes. Also suitable for heavy vehicles, which drive longer distances. Furthermore, the technology’s suitability for everyday use has long since been proven: To date, the Daimler fleet of fuel cell vehicles has racked up some 14 million kilometers. The fleet includes the B-Class F-CELL manufactured under series-production conditions, the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid city bus and a host of research vehicles.
Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, recently reiterated the importance of the fuel cell for Daimler and laid out the next steps: “The potential of the fuel cell and the fact that it is ready for market is undisputed today. However, apart from many technological issues, the market success of fuel-cell-powered vehicles is also directly tied to the existence of an appropriate infrastructure. Industry, policymakers, and infrastructure partners have jointly implemented important steps for the success of this technology, for example within the Clean Energy Partnership. In particular, the specific infrastructure setup plan of our H2 Mobility joint venture gives us reason to be highly optimistic in this regard. Currently, we are diligently preparing ourselves for the series production of our fuel-cell-powered off-roader based on the GLC.”
Support from policymakers
Encouragement for Daimler’s commitment also comes from the policymakers. German Federal Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt most recently promised investments totaling € 161 million for research and development in the field of fuel cell technology. He also emphasizes the great importance of this technology: “Electric mobility and automated and connected driving have brought us to the threshold of the biggest mobility revolution since the invention of the automobile. The fuel cell is a key technology of this development. For this reason, we have launched a hydrogen strategy – with three pillars: We are investing more than ever before, are building a nationwide charging infrastructure together with industry, and foster innovations in a targeted manner. As a result, Germany is shaping the switch in powertrain technology to electric mobility from the top,” said Dobrindt.
Daimler will advance the development of the new generation of fuel-cell Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles jointly with its suppliers and with the support from the policymakers. After all, the fuel cell does not just play an important role, it is one of the key technologies.