Mercedes-Benz Updates B-Class F-CELL Status for U.S.
The numbers won't be big -- only 200 units for Europe and America combined -- but Mercedes-Benz has now begun series production of a fuel-cell-powered B-Class crossover that will go on sale here starting in the spring. Originally announced in late August, the four-passenger front-drive F-CELL variant matches a 136 horsepower electric motor that makes 214 lb.-ft. of peak torque with a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack that draws its charge from a compact hydrogen fuel cell stack. With all three of its hydrogen tanks filled, the B-Class F-CELL has a range of nearly 250 miles, a distance optimized by the use of M-B's intelligent drive system management programming that permits its motor to operate using power from the battery, the fuel cell or both depending on conditions. Like other EVs, it also makes use to regenerative braking to replenish its battery pack. Mercedes says the B-Class F-CELL will have performance similar to a conventional vehicle with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine, be able to reach 60 mph in about 10 seconds and top out at 106 mph. Also earns the diesel equivalent of 71.3 mpg on the New European Driving Cycle. One of the key advantages of the new B-Class F-CELL is its all-season capability. This latest M-B system allows it to remain fully operational in temperatures down to 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. In addition to standards that include leather upholstery, automatic climate control, heated seats, the COMAND system and a full complement of tractions M-B safety features, the B-Class F-CELL will be equipped with a unique dynamic energy flow display that provides the driver with comprehensive real-time system status info as well as the locations of all available hydrogen refueling stations. Like the standard B-Class, the zero-emissions version also employs a sandwich-style floor structure that protects both the passengers and the pressurized hydrogen tanks in case of any impacts. Should a serious crash occur, special safety valves immediately close off the hydrogen supply lines to the fuel cell and decouple the tanks from the other system components. Mercedes has yet to release any information on projected pricing and/or easing deals for the B-Class F-CELL.