It was 125 years ago this weekend that Karl Benz was granted a patent for the seminal gasoline-engine-powered "automobile." To help celebrate that momentous event -- as well as look ahead to the future of cleaner, greener motoring -- Mercedes-Benz kicked off a 125-day/30,000 km "world tour" by a trio of hydrogen-powered B-Class F-CELL models. Starting out at M-B's home base in Stuttgart, these fuel-cell equipped cars will travel some 30,000km (18,600 miles) across four continents and 14 countries on an all-roads/all-weather global excursion aimed at demonstrating that they are safe, reliable and fully capable of being part of tomorrow's transportation equation before returning to Stuttgart in early June. Mercedes also plans to use the excursion to seek support for getting more private and public resources behind developing a comprehensive refueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles.
The route of the F-CELL World Drive will take the cars through Western Europe to Lisbon, Portugal where they'll be flown to Ft. Lauderfdale Florida, travel across the southern portion of the country to Los Angeles and up the coast to Vancouver, Canada, before heading to Australia to be driven from Sydney to Perth. From there, it's on to Asia where they'll spend a few days at the Auto Shanghai exhibition before venturing on to Moscow, Russia via Beijing. The last leg of the F-CELL World Drive is a St. Petersberg to Stuttgart run that will pass through Finland and make layover stops in Stockholm, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway. To ensure a ready supply of hydrogen when the cars are traveling on more remote sections of the journey, a special tanker co-developed with the Linde Group will be along to serve as a mobile refueling station.
Presiding over the start of the F-CELL World Drive was Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG noted that: "Some 125 years after the invention of the motor car, for us the B-Class F-CELL embodies its reinvention. As an event which is currently unique, this circumnavigation of the world in customer-ready fuel cell vehicles again demonstrates that we have sufficient pioneering spirit for at least another 125 years of innovation."