When it comes to powertrains of the future, Mercedes cannot be accused of putting all its eggs in one basket. It says 48 volt mild hybrid systems will proliferate across its enter model line up in coming years. It is rushing to get plug-in hybrid cars on the market as soon as possible and says it will have a long range electric SUV on offer by 2019.
Now comes word that Mercedes will bring a new kind of car to market next year — a plug-in fuel cell SUV that can be powered by a battery or a hydrogen fuel cell. Based on the GLC model, it will have a range of about 300 miles before it needs to be recharged and/or refueled. Range on battery power alone is said to be 30 miles. The car is part of the $10.67 billion investment green technology Mercedes plans to make through the end of 2017.
“Daimler sees several different drive technologies co-existing in the future,” says Thomas Weber, head of development for Mercedes. “We have a broad portfolio of vehicles from compact cars to heavy trucks that require us to think holistically.”
The company first offered a fuel cell vehicle in 2010, when it started selling a small number of B-Class fuel cell compact cars. The technology is attractive because hydrogen tanks can be filled in about the same time as it take to pump a tankful of gasoline or diesel fuel. Still, a lack of hydrogen refueling stations is preventing many customers from actively considering a fuel cell car.
The pressure to invest in a range of new technologies despite low sales of hybrid and electric cars suggest more collaboration between car makers in the future in an attempt to reduce development costs of new technology. Christian Mohrdieck, who is the head of fuel cell development for Mercedes, says, “We’ll probably see more cooperation. There’s the advantage to save costs and also bundle volumes.”