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Mercedes-Benz Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Ready by 2014, According to Daimler Boss

Hydrogen-powered cars from Mercedes-Benz could be hitting our streets sooner than planned, if the optimistic comments made earlier today by Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche are correct.

Zetsche predicts that a mass-produced version of a hydrogen-powered car should be ready by 2014, one year sooner than originally predicted. Mercedes has already spent the past couple years testing its F-Cell hydrogen fuel-cell car, which is based on the current B-Class subcompact. As a test and display of the technology's viability in the real world, Mercedes recently completed a trip around the globe using three B-Class F-Cells; the vehicles completed the 18,641-mile journey, solidifying its case that the technology is indeed ready for mass production much sooner than later.

Overall, the F-Cell could be treated like any other gasoline-powered car, from the way that it's driven down to how you fill it up -- the slight difference, of course, is filling the tank with pressurized hydrogen instead of gasoline. Its biggest obstacles so far have been the lack of supporting infrastructure (especially in the United States) and the prohibitive costs of the hydrogen drivetrain. But Zetsche is confident that a mass-produced F-Cell will be viable in certain markets by 2014. He also predicts that his company will release an even more affordable F-Cell model a few years later. "By mid-decade, I'm optimistic we can drive the cost into the range of a diesel-hybrid equivalent," he said (though no specific model was provided for comparison).

Other automakers are developing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, most notably Honda, which has been hard at work with its Honda FCX Clarity. In 2007, the automaker leased its FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell to a select group of customers for testing before rolling it out to other consumers. General Motors also launched a similar program with its "Project Driveway" test, which included 100 hydrogen powered Chevrolet Equinox crossovers.

Source: Detroit News