At this year’s Frankfurt International Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz is showcasing the fuel cell version of its GLC crossover – the GLC F‑CELL, claimed to be the world’s first electric vehicle with fuel-cell and battery powertrain.
The reason Mercedes says that is because the car uses a 13.8 kWh lithium-ion battery as an additional energy source that can be externally charged by plug-in technology. The output is 147 kW (200 hp) and 350 Nm of torque. In Battery mode, the vehicle’s range is 49 km (NEDC), and H2 range in Hybrid mode (NEDC) is 437 km. Top speed has been electronically limited to just 160 km/h presumably for safety reasons.
Compared with the B-Class F-CELL, which has been on the market since 2010, the overall drive system offers around 40 percent more output. The fuel-cell system is around 30 percent more compact than before, and for the first time, can be housed entirely in the engine compartment and is installed on the usual mounting points like a conventional engine. Also, the use of platinum in the fuel cell has been reduced by 90 percent, said the company.
Two carbon-fibre-encased tanks built into the vehicle floor hold around 4.4 kg of hydrogen. Thanks to globally standardised 700 bar tank technology, the supply of hydrogen can be replenished within just three minutes, which is about the same amount of time it takes to refuel a car with an internal combustion engine.
Like the GLC Plug-in Hybrid, the fuel-cell variant comes with ECO, COMFORT and SPORT mode. ECO is optimised for low consumption. COMFORT is geared not only for comfort, but also provides ideal climate control. SPORT optimises the hybrid powertrain for sporty performance.
In HYBRID operating mode, the vehicle draws power from both energy sources. Power peaks are handled by the battery, while the fuel cell runs in the optimum efficiency range.
In F-CELL mode, the charge of the battery is kept constant by the energy from the fuel cell. Driving almost exclusively on hydrogen is ideal if the intention is to keep the electric range in reserve for certain driving situations.
In BATTERY mode, the GLC F-CELL runs all-electrically and is powered by the battery. The fuel-cell system is not in operation. This is ideal for short distances.
In CHARGE mode, charging the battery is priority, for example in order to recharge the battery for the maximum overall range prior to refuelling with hydrogen. This mode also creates power reserves for uphill or very dynamic driving.
Other features include 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch COMAND system, automatic air conditioning with pre-entry climate control, heated seats and mirrors, 360° camera and many more.
As for the suspension, there are coil springs on the front axle and single-chamber air suspension with integral automatic level control on the rear axle.