IAA 2017: Mercedes-Benz combines fuel cell and battery in the pre-series model of the GLC F-Cell

Mercedes-Benz is showing its GLC F-CELL fuel cell vehicle for the first time at the IAA 2017. It combines fuel cell and battery technology to form a plug-in hybrid. In addition to hydrogen, the purely electric variant of the SUV will also “fill up” with electricity.

In an intelligent interplay, the two energy sources drive the electric motor with an output of 147 kW (200 hp) at a maximum torque of 359 Nm up to a maximum speed of 160 kilometers. The two carbon-fiber-coated tanks in the vehicle floor hold approximately 4,4 kg of hydrogen. Thanks to the globally standardized 700 bar tank technology, the hydrogen supply is replenished within just three minutes. This means that the refueling process does not differ in time from that of a car with an internal combustion engine.

After that, the pre-series model produces enough energy for a range of up to 437 km in the NEDC. Driven purely electrically, the range is up to 49 km. With the 7,2 kW onboard charger, it can be charged at a standard household socket, a wall box or a public charging station. The charging time is approximately 1,5 hours when the entire performance is used.

In collaboration with the Daimler competence network, Mercedes-Benz has developed a completely new fuel cell system for the world first. Compared to the B-Class F-CELL, which has been on the market since 2010 (fuel consumption: 0,97 kg H₂ / 100 km, combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g / km), the entire drive system offers around 40 percent more power. The fuel cell system is around 30 percent more compact than before, can be completely housed in the engine compartment for the first time and is mounted like a conventional engine at the known suspension points. The use of platinum in the fuel cell was also reduced by 90 percent. This saves resources and reduces system costs. Like the plug-in hybrid of the GLC, the fuel cell variant also has different operating modes and driving programs.

The driving programs of the GLC F-CELL will include ECO, COMFORT and SPORT. ECO means vehicle behavior optimized for low consumption. COMFORT not only offers comfortable adjustment, but also ensures ideal air conditioning. In the SPORT mode, the hybrid powertrain is designed to be sporty. While the driving programs change the behavior of the car and thus the driving experience, the operating modes influence the interaction between the fuel cell and the high-voltage battery. In the HYBRID operating mode, the vehicle draws power from both energy sources. The battery covers power peaks, the fuel cell is operated in the optimum efficiency range. In F-CELL mode, the state of charge of the high-voltage battery is kept constant by the energy of the fuel cell.

Driving almost exclusively with hydrogen is the ideal mode if the electrical range is to be saved for certain driving situations. In BATTERY mode, the GLC F-CELL runs purely battery-electric, powered by the high-voltage battery. The fuel cell system is not active. This is the ideal mode for short distances. In CHARGE mode, charging the high-voltage battery has priority, for example to recharge the battery for a maximum total range before a hydrogen refueling process. The mode also creates performance reserves for mountain trips or very dynamic driving. In all operating modes, the system has a recuperation function that makes it possible to recover energy when braking and coasting and to store it in the battery.

There are particularly strict safety requirements for the battery and for all components that contain hydrogen. In addition to the protection in the vehicle crash, additional component tests are carried out at system level, which go far beyond the usual tests. DISTRONIC Active Distance Assist, lane package with Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist, parking package with 360 ° camera or COMAND Online with traffic sign recognition are standard on board.

Visually, blue accents in the radiator grille and the light alloy wheels, the rocker panel and the rear bumper and a foil with the inscription F-CELL give a clearly visible indication of the fuel cell drive. Inside, a new design style clearly differentiates the fuel cell vehicle from the conventional GLC. New in the GLC F-CELL is the multi-function touchpad with handwriting recognition, which celebrates its world premiere in the pre-series vehicles presented at the IAA. With the newly developed feature, telematics functions can be controlled via single and multi-finger gestures, the so-called multitouch. The touchpad thus offers an additional input option for LINGUATRONIC in conjunction with COMAND Online. Letters, numbers and special characters can also be entered using handwriting using the touchpad.

A comprehensive infrastructure is a prerequisite for the success of electromobility. The H2 filling station network is expected to grow to 100 stations by the end of next year. A network of up to 2023 hydrogen filling stations will be created by 400. Similar infrastructure projects are being pursued in Europe, the United States and Japan.

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