Mercedes F-CELL Lands In California

It’s a step forward for hydrogen-fueled vehicles, but don’t get too excited. As they say on the radio: This is only a test.

Mercedes is trumpeting delivery of its first F-CELL hydrogen-powered B-Class vehicle to a U.S. customer, one Vance Van Petten, who happens to be executive director of the Producers Guild of America. Van Petten is, as Mercedes said in its press release, “part of a select group of people” in on a lease program for the vehicle. (According to MotorTrend, the group getting the car, which uses a fuel cell stack for generating electricity and a lithium ion battery for energy storage, amounts to 70 folks.)

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, Mercedes-Benz, F-CELL

image via Mercedes-Benz

This very slow, careful rollout – which will provide data on hydrogen-vehicle use to the Department of Energy – is understandable, given the vehicle’s novelty and the sparsity of fueling stations. California leads the nation in charging locations, but even it only has around 20, according to the Energy Department. The Mercedes press release did not detail where Van Petten will refuel his ride, but wherever it is, the process will take a mere three minutes, Mercedes said. That’s about a tenth the time it takes to refuel an electric vehicle using even the fastest chargers that will be available.

Except for a drip of water, the F-CELL has no emissions. This is a big selling point for hydrogen, although there may of course be emissions produced in the process of creating the hydrogen fuel.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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