Mercedes-Benz, like nearly every automaker, is on a quest to electrify its entire lineup. Apparently, that quest includes electrifying hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well, which is a combination of technology the brand is showcasing with its GLC F-Cell being shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
All fuel cell vehicles generate electric to power the vehicle, but the GLC F-Cell takes things a bit further on the electrification side. Mercedes engineers have effectively created a fuel cell plug-in hybrid here by pairing the company’s newest hydrogen fuel cell engine with a small lithium-ion battery pack and plug-in charger.
The combined powertrain is made possibly thanks to new advancements in Mercedes’ fuel cell technology. The fuel cell found under the hood of the GLC F-Cell actually fits under the hood. In fact, it departs previous fuel cell engines by being able to be mounted on the GLC’s normal engine mounts; meaning this version is far more compact than the one found in the fuel cell B-Class, which launched in 2010.
With a more compact fuel cell system, Mercedes was left with room to throw in a 13.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the cargo floor in addition to the required electric motor and plug-in charging system.
Collectively, the control system in the GLC F-Cell can power the vehicle in a variety of ways. It can run solely off the battery pack in battery mode, leverage both fuel cell and electric in hybrid mode, or run exclusively off hydrogen in F-Cell mode. There’s also a charging mode for specified conditions.
The flexibility of the system is intriguing in terms of making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles more attractive to a weary consumer. There is still a general lack of infrastructure when it comes to hydrogen fueling stations, both in the U.S. and Europe. The GLC F-Cell’s hybrid credentials do provide an alternative propulsion means with its electric backup.
For purposes of the Frankfurt Motor Show, the GLC F-Cell on display is technically a pre-production model. Mercedes says it is finalizing its go-to-market plan for the GLC F-Cell now, but thus far has not provided a firm timetable as to when it will arrive or in what global markets.
It’s also unknown if the snazzy blue accents, such as the grille, will make it to the production model.