This novel looking car is powered by a zero-emission fuel cell drive with an output of 115bhp. The compact-class car with a family-friendly design consumes the equivalent of 3 litres/100km (97mpg) and has an operating range in excess of 400km (250 miles).
Mercedes Benz claims that this new car represents a major step towards bringing the fuel cell drive up to full production maturity, a goal that the company aims to achieve some time between 2012 and 2015. In addition to the fuel cell technology, the Mercedes-Benz research vehicle also showcases an operating concept with virtual displays, new-style seats and other pioneering technologies designed to enhance safety and passenger comfort.
Fuel cells use the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electrical power in a process that produces no emissions. DaimlerChrysler claims to have made some crucial advances to this trailblazing technology. The fuel cell in the F 600 Hygenius is around 40% more compact than previously, runs more efficiently than ever and is notable for its good cold-start characteristics.
This has been achieved thanks to the inclusion of innovations such as the redesigned fuel stacks, an electric turbocharger and a new humidification and dehumidification system. The fuel cell drive alone generates a constant power output of 82bhp and a torque of 250 Nm. With any surplus energy being stored in a powerful lithium-ion battery, the system acts in a similar fashion to a hybrid drive, selecting the best power source to use depending on the driving situation. When parking or manoeuvring, for instance, the electric motor draws its power from the battery alone, while both fuel cell and battery feed it with energy in unison when the vehicle is accelerating. The electric motor doubles as a generator that charges the battery during vehicle braking by recuperating drive energy.
As well as generating clean energy to drive the research vehicle, the fuel cell can also serve as a mobile power source: its 89hp of electrical power would be quite sufficient to keep several detached houses supplied with power.