The GLC F-CELL features a ~9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack combined with a new fuel cell stack. Around 30% more compact than previous stacks, it can be fully housed in the engine compartment for the first time. Too, the cost of the technology has been slashed due largely to a 90% reduction in the amount of platinum used in the stack. The combination of fuel cell and battery system—along with a further developed intelligent operating strategy—will offer a combined range of around 500 km (311 miles) in the NEDC.
Fuel cell technology remains an integral part of Daimler’s powertrain strategy. Mercedes-Benz has already gathered experience with hydrogen-powered electric vehicles over several vehicle generations. To date, the fleet of Daimler fuel cell vehicles, including research vehicles, numbers more than 300 and has collectively covered nearly 18 million kilometers. The next generation of fuel cell vehicles from Mercedes-Benz is currently being developed based on the GLC.
Simulation, test rigs, road testing. Automobiles are initially developed on the computer. The first crash tests, aerodynamics analyses or chassis tests are also conducted in the virtual world using electronic simulations, long before the first physical prototype is built.
|The road to series production goes by way of intense functional and fatigue tests of individual components and later also of the complete test vehicles. Click to enlarge.|
Intensive functional and fatigue testing of individual components and later also of the complete test vehicles on a host of test rigs speed up the development process. The Fuel Cell Centre of Competence Nabern east of Stuttgart is playing a crucial role in the GLC F‑CELL. The fuel cell experts have used about 200 tonnes of hydrogen in their developments tests since 2015. The only exhaust gas emitted was water vapor—1800 tonnes of it in all.
The Vehicle Safety Technology Center (TFS) offers entirely new possibilities for testing vehicles with alternative powertrains, vehicle-to-vehicle tests or for the design of assistance systems and PRE‑SAFE. The GLC F‑CELL received its aerodynamic finishing touches in the wind tunnels in the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in Sindelfingen: Even the most extreme weather events can be moved indoors here. Temperatures ranging from minus 40 to plus 60 degrees Celsius, hurricanes with wind speeds of up to 265 km/h (165 mph), tropical downpours and heavy snowstorms are all part of the standard repertoire available to the test engineers.
After the first prototypes were roadworthy, the summer and winter road testing of the GLC F‑CELL began. The vehicles were driven on the proving grounds in Spain (IDIADA near Barcelona), Sweden (Arjeplog) and Germany (Boxberg), among others. The road tests also took the test teams to the Sierra Nevada (Spain) and the low mountain ranges of the Schwäbische Alb and the Black Forest in Germany. The test program comprised more than 500 individual tests, which in addition to the standard test regimen for all vehicles also included special tests for the electric powertrain, the fuel cell, and the interplay of all powertrain components.
Safety. The safety experts built on almost 30 years of company experience with fuel cell vehicles. The engineers focused on the integration of safety-relevant components such as the hydrogen tanks, the gas seals and valves, and the high-voltage components.
The hydrogen tanks are installed in the crash-protected area between the vehicle axles and are protected additionally by a subframe wrapped around the tanks. For the event of a crash, additional extensive measures were implemented—for example, a multi-stage valve system as well as special protective circuits for the high-voltage system.
The crash tests conducted with the pre-production GLC F‑CELL and earlier hydrogen vehicles show that the engineers achieved a level of safety comparable to that of conventional vehicles. As a result, the latest F‑CELL generation complies not only with all statutory requirements, but also with the even more rigorous Mercedes-Benz in-house standards.