With all the talk lately about Chevy's Volt and Nissan's Leaf heading to market, Mercedes-Benz didn't want it to be left out of the alternative powertrain buzz, and to that end, the first F-Cell hydrogen-powered B-Class vehicle was delivered late last week.
That first F-Cell was driven away from a Newport Beach Mercedes dealership by Vance Van Petten, executive director of the Producers Guild of America.
"I'm thrilled to be driving a vehicle that I believe represents the future of environmentally thoughtful transportation," Van Petten said. "Not only does it have zero emissions, but it also provides me with all of the safety technology one expects from Mercedes-Benz."
Of course, Mercedes isn't letting everyone buy an F-Cell just yet. Van Petten is leasing the car so that the German automaker can get data on how the car performs in the real world. Since the infrastructure for refueling stations is limited, Mercedes will select the most qualified applicants to lease the F-Cell. The automaker says the F-Cell consumes half the fuel of an equivalent conventionally powered car yet still only takes three minutes to refuel.
"The introduction of the F-Cell in California marks the beginning of zero emission fuel cell technology in the U.S. for Mercedes-Benz," said Sascha Simon, head of advanced product planning at Mercedes-Benz USA. "With a range of 240 miles that never needs to be plugged and more than 15 years of Mercedes-Benz research already committed to the technology, we believe this is a great addition to our fast growing portfolio of alternative fuel vehicles that customers can choose from to best suit their lifestyle."
We'd hasten to add that the introduction of lease-only F-Cells is still a miniscule part of all alternative powertrain vehicles available today. Until you can buy an F-Cell at a local dealership, "green" Mercedes enthusiasts can choose from hybrids in the S- and ML-class vehicles as well as a V-6 diesel in the R-, ML-, and GL-class crossovers.