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by Tim Beissmann

Three hydrogen-powered Mercedes-Benz F-Cell vehicles have set off on a round-the-world tour as a part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of the automobile.

The fluoro B-Class F-Cell cars started their global circumnavigation journey on January 30 in Stuttgart. Mercedes-Benz racing drivers Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and David Coulthard kicked off the voyage.

Over 125 days the F-Cells will cross four continents and 14 countries and finish back in Stuttgart at the beginning of June.

The route covers 30,000km, over which time Mercedes says it will demonstrate that hydrogen-powered vehicles are a safe and reliable means of transport over long distances and in all conditions.

Around the mid point of the expedition, the vehicles will be transported from North America and land in Sydney. They will cross more than 5000km in Australia, driving along the south coast and stopping over in Melbourne, Adelaide and finally arriving in Perth. From there they will be flown to Shanghai to complete the final leg of the journey.

Mercedes believes fuel cell vehicles are the future of the automobile, combining long range with short refuelling times – unlike current EVs, which offer neither.

Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars group research and development, Dr Thomas Weber, said the circumnavigation was designed to both showcase hydrogen technology and draw attention to the significant challenge of establishing hydrogen infrastructure around the world.

“This type of electric mobility can only be implemented on a comprehensive scale when it is backed by a network of hydrogen filling stations designed to meet demand,” Dr Weber said. “This filling station network now has to be developed by joining forces.

“We have done our homework: the B-Class F-CELL shows to impressive effect the contribution which electric vehicles with fuel cell are already able to make to future mobility.

“The vehicle enables local zero-emission motoring not only over short routes but also over longer distances.”

Mercedes-Benz began leasing the hydrogen-powered B-Class F-Cell last month, with 70 on the road in California.

Depending on the pressure within the hydrogen tanks, range for the vehicles is between 399km (350 Bar) and 678km (700 Bar).

Combined cycle fuel consumption is 0.97kg/100km, while CO2 emissions are non-existent, with H2O the only bi-product of hydrogen’s chemical reaction with oxygen.




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