Mercedes-Benz is reportedly slowing down its development efforts with hydrogen fuel cell cars in favour of battery electric vehicles.
According to Smart2Zero, Dieter Zetsche made these comments at an automotive conference in Stuttgart, Germany, towards the end of March.
Zetsche told attendees hydrogen fuel cell technology initially held a large advantage over battery electric vehicles, thanks to their longer range and faster refuelling times. Now the advantage is much smaller, especially if cost is also factored in.
The Mercedes-Benz CEO said, "Battery costs are declining rapidly whereas hydrogen production remains very costly". He also noted that fuel cell technology remained an "interesting solution", but its viability would only be assured if hydrogen could be produced at commercial quantities via renewable energy.
Above: Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell concept.
Last week, Mercedes-Benz accelerated its electric vehicle plans, committing itself to launch 10 EVs by 2022. In earlier statements, the automaker said it would launch the same number of electric cars by 2025.
The company's new EVs will be sold under the EQ sub-brand, with the first vehicle due on the market in 2019. Expected to be badged EQC, it will be an SUV based on the GLC crossover and styled along the lines of the Generation EQ concept.
Despite the aggressive push into EVs, Mercedes-Benz still plans to launch a fuel cell version of the GLC towards the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018. The GLC fuel cell will be targeted at fleet operators.