|The B-Class undergoing comprehensive low-temperature testing in Sweden on its road to production in 2010.|
Mercedes continues to move closer to its planned launch of limited series production of the B-Class F-Cell fuel cell drive vehicle in early 2010. The B-Class with fuel cell drive just passed its winter testing in northern Sweden, under double-digit, below-zero temperatures.
Cold start behavior was subjected to thorough scrutiny. Although Daimler Research had already found a technical solution to the fuel cell’s start capability at -25 degrees Celsius, the engineers’ focus here was on the interaction between the different components under real-life winter conditions.
A further focus of the winter tests was on roadholding. This meant adapting the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to the special requirements of a fuel-cell vehicle. A special feature in this context is that an electric motor exhibits different speed governing behaviour to that of standard combustion engines.
The results of the winter tests proved that we are on the right track with this innovative drive concept and have taken another important step on the road to reaching production standard. As with the standard test programmes for conventional vehicles, we will be subjecting the B-Class F-Cell to further rigorous testing over the next few months.—Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler AG board member with responsibility for Research and Development at Mercedes-Benz Cars
The B-Class F-Cell is powered by a new generation of fuel-cell drive based on the optimized fuel-cell system in the F 600 HYGENIUS research vehicle that Mercedes-Benz presented in 2005 (earlier post).
The new compact fuel-cell system operates much more efficiently than previous generations. The newly designed stack is roughly 40% smaller, yet generates 30% greater power along with a 16% reduction in hydrogen consumption compared to the F-Cell A-Class.
As introduced in the F 600 HYGENIUS (which combines the fuel cell with a lithium-ion battery pack in a hybrid architecture), the stack generated constant power output of 60 kW (82 hp) and 250 Nm torque. The full F 600 hybrid powertrain delivered maximum power output of 85 kW (115 hp) and a peak torque of 350 Nm.
The new system in the B-Class also demonstrates a good cold start capability, thanks to innovations such as the electric turbocharger for air supply, and the new humidification and demisting system.
The electric motor in the new B-Class F-Cell develops maximum output of 100 kW (136 hp) and a maximum torque of 320 Nm (236 lb-ft)—approximately the standards of a two-liter gasoline engine. The zero-emission fuel-cell drive uses the equivalent of 2.9 liters of diesel fuel per 100 kilometers.
With 700-bar pressurized tanks for hydrogen storage, the B-Class F-Cell will have a range of more than 400 km (249 miles).
Daimler AG’s fuel-cell fleet has now covered around 3.8 million zero-emission kilometers, giving the company more data, expertise and experience than any other manufacturer. With approximately 100 vehicles, it currently operates the largest fuel-cell vehicle fleet in the world, comprising concept vehicles, passenger cars, vans and Citaro city buses.