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October 9, 2002

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DaimlerChrysler to Launch First U.S. Fleet of Fuel Cell Vehicles in 2003

A-class fuel cell drive

Photo: DC

DaimlerChrysler will launch the world's first fleet of fuel cell passenger cars in the United States and Europe in 2003, the company said. The fuel cell vehicles, based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class passenger car, will be called the "F-Cell".

"With these vehicles, we become the first manufacturer to put fuel cell cars on the road," said Prof. Ferdinand Panik, head of Fuel Cell Development at DaimlerChrysler. "The hydrogen-powered F-Cell cars are genuine zero-emission vehicles which have left the research stage and are now going to field testing."

Since introducing the first NECAR (New Electric Car) in 1994, DaimlerChrysler has led development of fuel cell technology, producing 20 concept vehicles, such as the NECAR series and the Chrysler Town & Country Natrium.

These vehicles have been designed to operate on a variety of fuels, including methanol, gasoline, liquid and gaseous hydrogen and sodium borohydride, a borax-like compound. The F-Cell vehicles will be powered by hydrogen.

The fuel serves as a source of hydrogen which is combined with oxygen from the air in the fuel cell to produce electricity and drive an electric motor. The size and weight of the drive unit have been reduced considerably since early fuel cell vehicles, while performance has improved significantly.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class F-Cell, the first cars to grow out of the research stage and to go on the road, are being manufactured under near-standard conditions and will be operated and tested by customers in everyday use within the framework of government-sponsored international cooperative ventures.

DaimlerChrysler is currently testing a fuel cell-powered Sprinter van in a delivery fleet and will begin delivering fuel cell-powered Citaro buses to 10 European cities next year.

"The fuel cell technology gives us the opportunity to bring mobility together with environmental compatibility and to make a major contribution to society," said Prof. JŁrgen Hubbert, member of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management with responsibility for the Mercedes-Benz.

Hubbert noted, however, that before fuel cell vehicles go to market in significant numbers, fuel and infrastructure issues must be clarified in a worldwide initiative, jointly with the political community, the energy sector and others.

In the "F-Cell", the entire fuel cell system is accommodated in the sandwich floor of the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Its tanks supply compressed hydrogen directly to the fuel cell system, giving the "F-Cell" a cruising range of about 90 miles. Hydrogen consumption is equivalent to 56 mpg gasoline.

The electric motor has an output of 65 kW. The vehicle accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 16 seconds and gets a top speed of around 87 mph. This performance makes the "F-Cell" suitable for everyday use. In addition, the vehicle has zero smog and greenhouse gas emissions and is extraordinarily quiet in operation.

(Oct. 8, 2002)


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