First hydrogen production car from Germany: The Mercedes GLC F

The Mercedes GLC F-Cell is the first hydrogen car from German series production. The car is a blessing even for electric car fans - and yet has a major shortcoming.

The first impression: finally a highway-friendly electric car. Drive, refuel in three minutes, go on. Mileage like gasoline or diesel. And that with vibration-free engine operation and great noise reduction. Pretty comfortable, this Benz.

That says the manufacturer: Compared to the battery electric SUV Mercedes EQC 400 (available from autumn) are built according to Mercedes "quite a few" GLC F-Cell. How few exactly, the manufacturer does not reveal. It could be 1000. Maybe more. You can not buy the car, but lease for 799 euros a month. Nevertheless, they are proud in Stuttgart: the suitability for everyday use and the result of decades of development leading to the current fuel cell. It generates the traction current directly in the car and runs on hydrogen. The new system is so compact that it is "fully housed in the engine compartment and mounted on the same suspension points as a conventional engine," according to Mercedes-based Daimler. The platinum share was compared to the predecessor vehicle - so the F-Cell of 2010 based on the penultimate B-Class - reduced by 90 percent. Industry insiders say it uses about as much of the precious metal as needed for today's diesel emission control system. This protects the environment, saves costs and makes the fuel cell vehicle significantly more attractive.

We noticed that: electric driving can be that easy. No thought of the range, to parked charging stations, boring forced breaks, confused electricity tariffs or the right charging chip. Only on the map of the hydrogen refueling stations you should absolutely look before starting: Although currently almost every week a new location is opened. Nevertheless, you have to use every opportunity to refill. This is also due to the tank of the Mercedes, which is 4.4 kg with a much smaller capacity than that of the toughest competitor, the Hyundai Nexo (6.3 kilos) - an important shortcoming.

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Mercedes GLC F-Cell: Hydrogen Power

The Mercedes GLC F-Cell sacrifices a part of the volume of the externally rechargeable battery. So he can drive both with electricity from the fuel cell as well as with the power from the grid. Strictly speaking, it is a plug-in hybrid. However, the driver never notices when which energy source will be tapped - unlike conventional hybrids and other fuel cell vehicles. This is also possible because the air compressor is inaudible - unlike the hydrogen car Toyota Mirai. On the other hand, the double thrust is clearly noticeable: When accelerating, the F-Cell reacts more spontaneously and more directly than the competition. The net capacity of 9.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) is sufficient for about 30 kilometers. Enough for anyone who wants to use the SUV anyway only as a shopping cruiser. Nevertheless, it would have been more consistent to rely solely on hydrogen. The range adds up with admittedly very fast highway driving (consumption: 1.6 kg per 100 km) to more than 300 kilometers. If you are slower and away from A2 and A9, you should make over 400.

One has to know that: Participate - or leave the field to the competition. This certainly applies to battery electric cars, which are currently enjoying strong growth rates worldwide. See Tesla. But even with the fuel cell, it really starts now. The Asian manufacturers know that it is not the battery or the fuel cell that make the race. Rather, the larger the vehicle and the longer the route, the more meaningful the hydrogen and the more nonsensical become super-heavy batteries.

Which types of electric cars are there?

Pure electric drive

These vehicles no longer have a classic powertrain that transmits kinetic energy to the wheels from the engine. Instead, in the wheel hubs are electric motors, the energy comes from a battery that can be charged at the outlet. Because the storage capacity of batteries is not yet comparable to a classic car, some electric vehicles have a so-called range extender on board - a small generator that provides the electric motors with energy when the battery is empty.

Examples: Tesla Model S, VW E-Up, VW E-Golf, Renault Zoe, BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf, Mercedes B-Class E-Drive

hybrid drive

Hybrid cars have a battery in addition to the classic combustion engine on board. When it is empty, the petrol engine starts. One variant is so-called mild hybrid systems, in which the current drive only runs parallel supportive, in order to reduce gasoline consumption. The battery is usually charged by brake power recovery and a dynamo. Future hybrid vehicles should also be chargeable at the socket.

Examples: Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius +, VW Golf GTE, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, Porsche 918 Spyder, Volvo V60 PiH, BMW i8

fuel cell drive

These vehicles are fueled instead of gasoline liquid hydrogen. In a chemical reaction, the hydrogen in the fuel cell is converted into electrical energy, which then drives the vehicle. Unlike pure electric vehicles, the infrastructure for hydrogen is an unresolved issue. The advantage of fuel cell vehicles is their greater range.

Examples: Hyundai ix35, Honda FCX Clarity, Hamburger Nahverkehrsbusse (Mercedes-Benz), Toyota Mirai

Range extender

Unlike conventional electric cars, Range Extenders have an internal combustion engine on board, which starts when the battery's charge runs out. Advantage: The range increases to the level of a car with conventional drive. The forerunner of this species is the Opel Ampera, but also uses the power of the burner when the full power, for example, on the highway is called.

Examples: Opel Ampera (identical to Chevrolet Volt), BMW i3 (optional with petrol engine)

"We are seeing a global increase in fuel cell dynamics, driven mainly by China, which wants to catch up with South Korea and Japan in this technology," says Volker Blandow, Head of Electromobility at TÜV Süd. He is currently watching the situation on the Asian booming markets from Hong Kong. Beijing, in particular, apparently no longer relies solely on battery-powered cars. "Fuel cells should make China less dependent on problematic materials in Li-ion batteries," says Blandow.

Critics criticize the poorer compared to the battery efficiency of the fuel cell. Their advantage is the incomparably higher material efficiency: the purely battery-electric SUVs like the Audi e-tron weigh hundreds of kilograms more than the Mercedes GLC F-Cell.

vehicle registration

Manufacturer: Mercedes
Type: GLC F-Cell
Body: SUV
Engine: electric motor
Drive: front
Power (electric motor): 211 hp (155 kW)
Torque (electric motor): 365 Nm
Top speed .: 160 km / h
Fuel: hydrogen
Mass: 2,137 kg
Dimensions: 4.66 m / 1.89 m / 1.63 m

We will not forget that: How confidently the GLC F-Cell drives. That's really fat. The limited by software to 160 km / h maximum speed (Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo bar only at just 180 km / h) is the Mercedes whisper quiet. In addition, the F-Cell creates the home-feeling that characterizes the reputation of the star: Absolutely solid, high-quality down to the last detail and without the rumble of a self-ignition. If the customer had the choice between the classic internal combustion engines, the battery and the fuel cell electric drive in highway cars such as E- or S-Class - he would opt for the latter.