Top Executive Fleet News in 2009
Original Post: September 4, 2009

MONTVALE, NJ - While other automakers plunge headlong into the electric car race, Mercedes-Benz is betting on hydrogen, according to U.S. News. The company plans to begin a small-scale program leasing compact luxury cars that operate off of hydrogen fuel-cells in the United States as early as next year.

Wired reports, "Mercedes-Benz will begin building hydrogen fuel cell cars this fall and offer them to customers next year." The 2011 Mercedes-Benz F-Cell "is built on the company's B-Class compact car platform. It has a 136-horsepower electric motor that produces 213 pound-feet of torque," drawing its power from a hydrogen fuel cell. "Mercedes didn't provide any performance specs but says the car is on par with a similar-size vehicle with a 2.0-liter gas engine. Top speed is 105 mph."

Autoblog adds, "Range is quoted at around 250 miles and Mercedes claims a hydrogen recharge time of just three minutes."

PC Magazine reports, "The car will enter limited production within the next few months, the automaker said in a statement, with the first 200 vehicles being delivered to customers in the U.S. and Europe beginning in early 2010."

Details of the leases are not yet available, but interested readers should note that participating in automakers' experimental hydrogen programs typical comes at a significant price. Some California residents are currently leasing hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity sedans from Honda at a cost of $600 per month - and they have no right to purchase the cars at the end of their 3-year leases.

Car and Driver notes, "The lack of a refueling infrastructure -- which could potentially cost billions -- is still a major obstacle to hydrogen cars. But with better range and quicker refueling than electrics...they may well have a legitimate place in the future of the automobile." Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only water vapor.