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News of  April 11, 2000


DaimlerChrysler Offers First Fuel Cell Vehicles for Customers
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 customers."

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 mobility—that'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 technology."

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, NEBUS—a prototype based on the low-floor city bus O 405 N—became 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)


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