A few month ago, I had the chance to test drive the new B-Class F-Cell hydrogen powered car from Mercedes Benz. The company was providing testing to showcase the design as well as to launch their new leasing program for the F-Cell. This year, MBUSA expects anywhere between 5 and 15, though the exact number will depend on shipment. MBUSA is planning to have the first customer in these automobiles early 2011 and continue every month for the entire year. But you will only be able to get your hands on one if you live in either California or Germany.
Video Credit: Neil Chambers
MBUSA targeted potential leasers that live in proximity of an existing or future hydrogen filling station. If you want to drive one of these future-is-now vehicles, you will also need to go to the website and sign up to be a lessee. The exact lease price is still in negotiations, but will be competitive. Price will include fuel and maintenance.
The Los Angeles area has a strong budding network of public hydrogen stations. There are already six stations throughout the metro area. If you are wondering how close you live or work to a station, just take a visit to the National Hydrogen Association website. Along with the stations in LA, there are 15 other stations throughout California with 12 more planned.
When you drive the F-Cell you will feel like you are in a conventional powered car. Not only that, unlike plug-ins, the F-Cell has a range of 240 miles per fill up with 136 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. And it is equipped with a 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery that stores recovered braking energy that helps provide instant acceleration and ensures fast starting in cold weather. Also, you will find that refueling is actually faster than gasoline cars - only taking about three minutes from start to stop.
The Design is based on the popular B-Class model offered in other world markets like Canada and Europe and features a space-saving double floor that allows the entire fuel cell system to be sandwiched between the two floors. The floor design provides the passengers additional safety if a crash were to happen. The interior is larger than a sedan and wagon despite it is a compact exterior body. It was a really pleasure to drive. But also, it has a dashboard of interesting components that show you the kilowatts being used at any given time and where energy is being generated within the car. I think hydrogen fueled cars are the real future of transportation. They are not dependent on grid source electricity, do not need to be plugged in and have the same features as most conventional cars.
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