A new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell concept has been revealed today, offering the first look at a model now confirmed for a 2017 production debut.
The car maker claims that the concept's hydrogen fuel-cell stack, developed together with Ford, combines with a lithium-ion battery pack to be the first vehicle of its type to boast a usable all-electric driving mode.
Mercedes is claiming this set-up as a first, with most hydrogen-fuelled cars relying on a fill of hydrogen to power the electric motor that drives them. By adding a lithium-ion battery pack, this new concept adds plug-in charging capabilities.
With hydrogen fuelling networks still limited in most supported regions to only a handful of stations, the GLC F-Cell's combination system means that owners will be able to charge at public electric-vehicle points between hydrogen refills.
Mercedes-Benz says that with the hydrogen cells fuelled, owners can expect a driving range of around 500 kilometres.
Using only the lithium-ion battery pack to power the motor reduces range to around 50km, although the car maker is betting that will satisfy most urban users.
The fuel-cell stack is located at the front, where the engine would normally sit, while the 9.0kWh lithium-ion pack is positioned at the rear behind two hydrogen tanks.
As a hydrogen vehicle, the GLC F-Cell rivals the technology utilised by models like the Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity and Hyundai ix35/Tucson FCEV, although none feature the specific combination of systems that figure in the Mercedes design.
Mercedes-Benz Australia has yet to confirm any local plans for the GLC F-Cell, but the absence of a proper hydrogen fuelling infrastructure suggests it would be unlikely to come here in any significant sales-focussed form.
But, as with Hyundai's local ix35 FCEV pilot program, we might yet see Mercedes bring the GLC F-Cell here for promotional and development purposes.