Mercedes-Benz to Lease B-Class Fuel Cell Sedan

By Bill Moore

Posted: 02 Sep 2009

Daimler recently announced it was going to launch "its first series-produced fuel cell car." Based on the Mercedes-Benz B-Class sedan, the F-Cell is said to offer performance comparable to a 2.0L gasoline engine model, but with zero emissions, while getting the equivalent of nearly 70 mpg. With a top speed of 170 km/hr (105 mph), the BlueEFFICIENCY has a range of up to 385 km (240 mi.) and a 4-minute refueling time. The fuel cell generates electricity by combining hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen, the by-product of which is water.

What wasn't discussed in the official announcement were details about where the car will be available and under what terms. EV World asked for clarification on a number of these questions. Daimler's Andrea Häussler responded from Stuttgart, Germany today with the following comments.

What is ratio of North American versus European distribution of the first 200 vehicles?
The vehicles will be run mainly in the US and Germany. We plan to allocate [approximately]. 30%-40% in the US, and [approximately] 45%-50% of our produced cars will find their customers in Germany.

What regions in No. America will the vehicles be operated?
Due to the infrastructure situation we will start our fleet operatrion activities in southern California, basically in L.A. Metropolitan. Depending on development of hydrogen fueling station availability we will expand fleet activities to San Francisco bay area.

Who are the envisioned "customers" for them?   Fleets? Individual owners?
The vehicles will be made available to selected fleet and private customers in Europe and the USA. One condition is proximity to a hydrogen filling station. The distribution of the vehicles is currently in the planning stage.

Will they be leased or sold outright?  If leased, have your determined the terms of the lease? Monthly cost and length of lease?
The vehicle will be provided to customers via a lease agreement. I’m sure you’ll understand that we cannot reveal future retail prices at this time.

Presumably, they will be leased in areas that have access to hydrogen refueling and if so, who will be paying for the "hydrogen"?
We will provide the vehicles with a full-service lease contract. This means, the lease rate covers not just the vehicle itself, but also insurance, registration and service costs. Like wth other cars, the customer has to cover the refueling costs.

What educational steps will you be taking to introduce drivers to operating the cars and especially refueling?
As for combustion-engine driven cars our customers will get a detailed explanation of the car during the handover. Of course, this instruction includes all hydrogen and fuel cell specific topics, including refueling. In some countries and for some refueling station a special instruction is necessary. In this case, we will cooparate with the operator of the relevant stations.

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