|Frankfurt - DaimlerChrysler is the first automaker worldwide
to offer fuel cell vehicles for sale. The company plans to build 20 to 30 city buses with
fuel cell drives during the next three years, and then offer them for sale to transport
operating companies in Europe and abroad.
Speaking today at a press conference marking
the start of the project, Professor Klaus-Dieter Vöhringer, the DaimlerChrysler Board of
Management member responsible for research and technology, said. "As a result of our
research and development activities the development of fuel cells for automotive
applications has reached a stage where we can now offer the first vehicles to
Wolfgang Diez, head of the Mercedes-Benz/Setra Buses business unit added, "Buses
built by Mercedes-Benz are distinguished by their innovative technology and their
contribution to sustainable mobilitythat's why it's only natural for us to be the
first to offer fuel cell technology to our customers. We want to introduce our customers
early on to technology that is particularly suited to city traffic, because of zero
emissions and significantly lower noise levels."
The first vehicles are planned for delivery by the end of 2002. They will be driven in
normal traffic conditions for a period of two years. These bus operations will also mark
the first time that detailed evaluations can be made on the basis of data from an entire
fleet of vehicles.
"This first production step demonstrates that fuel cells have reached a stage of
technological maturity," said Professor Dr. Ferdinand Panik, head of the
DaimlerChrysler Fuel Cell Project. "At the same time, we are aware that we have to
reduce the cost, volume and weight of the fuel cell systems in order to become competitive
with internal combustion engines. We have decided to begin a dialog with our future
customers at this early stage so that they can gain experience with this new
EvoBus GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler, will supply the
Mercedes-Benz Citaro low-floor city buses with fuel cells at a price of $1.2 million (1.25
million euros) each. The price includes comprehensive technical consulting and on-the-spot
maintenance by EvoBus for a period of two years. DaimlerChrysler will provide the
transport operators with guidance and expertise on preparing a fuel infrastructure.
DaimlerChrysler considers fuel cells to be the alternative drive system with the
greatest long term potential. They have either very low levels of emissions or none at
all, and are extremely quiet and energy efficient, thereby making an important
contribution to sustainable mobility. DaimlerChrysler has performed tests using methanol,
hydrogen and a purer form of gasoline to power fuel cell vehicles. It is also the first
automobile manufacturer to put fully functional, hydrogen and methanol driven fuel cell
vehicles on the road. Hydrogen is particularly suited to fleets in public transport
systems since the vehicles can regularly return to a central filling station. The
emission-free, low-noise, hydrogen fuel cell buses are especially suited to city traffic.
The fuel cell driven Citaro now being offered for sale is the successor to the NEBUS
(New Electric Bus). In 1997, NEBUSa prototype based on the low-floor city bus O 405
Nbecame the first Mercedes-Benz fuel cell driven bus to hitthe streets.
The Citaro's fuel cell unit delivers more than 250 kilowatts of power. It was developed
and manufactured by the DaimlerChrysler subsidiary Xcellsis, with fuel cell stack provided
by Ballard Power Systems. The gas pressure bottles containing compressed hydrogen are
mounted on the roof of the bus. The environmentally friendly bus can travel up to 186
miles (300 kilometers) at a top speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km per hour) and carry
around 70 passengers. The electric motor, transmission, drive shaft and mechanical rear
axle are all located at the rear of the bus. This ensures smooth low-floor design and easy
access during maintenance. The bus also includes three doors for optimal passenger flow.
(April 6, 2000)