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Benz begins GLC F-Cell rollout

Hydrogen fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid tech in Merc’s German-only GLC F-Cell

Mercedes-Benz logo15 Nov 2018

MERCEDES-BENZ has begun rolling out its GLC F-Cell – a mid-sized luxury SUV featuring both hydrogen fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid technology – in its home market of Germany, but the brand’s local division is still studying the powertrain’s viability in the Australian market.
 
Speaking to GoAuto, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific head of media relations and product communications Jerry Stamoulis said hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are yet to make sense locally.
 
“It all comes down to if we see a market for it in Australia, then we can turn to the factory and say it’s time to start looking at this,” he said. 
 
“But at this stage there is nothing available to us, we’re not considering it.”
 
The lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure Down Under has been cited in the past as the biggest hurdle to overcome for FCEVs such as the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo.
 
However, the two aforementioned brands have built a mobile refuelling station and hydrogen pumps respectively to accommodate fleet trials of both models.
 
For Mercedes-Benz however, it will only offer its GLC F-Cell, first revealed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, in Germany where infrastructure already exists for hydrogen refuelling, before an expected wider-market rollout in the future.
 
The first customer to take delivery of the GLC F-Cell – which will be a rental-only model for now with Mercedes-Benz handling maintenance and repair – will be Deutsche Bahn, a German railway company, while other business entities including Air Liquide, Shell and Linde AG will receive their vehicles later in the year.
 
However, according to the luxury brand, availability will open to private customers in Germany before the second half of next year.
 
Only seven Mercedes-Benz outlets will offer the GLC F-Cell throughout Germany.
 
Propelled by a 155kW powertrain that uses both fuel-cell and plug-in systems, the GLC F-Cell is a pure-electric SUV that sports around 430km of emissions-free driving range when tested on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
 
However, once the 4.4kg hydrogen tanks are expended, the GLC F-Cell can utilise its battery pack – if charged – for another 51km of range.
 
Keeping the centre of gravity down, the hydrogen tanks are positioned in the floor and feature carbon-fibre enclosures for protection and to minimise weight.
 
Mercedes says the GLC F-Cell consumes around 1kg of hydrogen per 100km, while regenerative braking technology will also be used to recharge the battery pack.
 
Three drive modes – Eco, Comfort and Sport – are available, while the GLC F-Cell can also operate in Hybrid, F-Cell, Battery or Charge form, which varies where the drive draws its power.
 
As for the rest of the car, it is unclear if the alternative powertrains have affected interior packaging, but the standard GLC features includes a 550-litre boot capacity with the rear seats in place.
 
While torque figures for the F-Cell are yet to be revealed, its 155kW power output matches the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol GLC250, while also besting the turbo-diesel GLC250d by 5kW.

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