Fuel cells get sporty

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its next-generation fuel cell vehicle at the Geneva motor show this month.


Mercedes-Benz

unveiled its next-generation fuel cell vehicle at the Geneva motor show this month; the ‘B-Cell’. Mercedes’ parent DaimlerChrysler said the new B-class ‘F-Cell’ is the first sports tourer vehicle to be developed with fuel cell technology.

Its high-torque electric motor can develop 100kW, 35kW more than its predecessor, the A-class ‘F-Cell’, while a reduction in fuel consumption and storage capacity has seen the operating range increase to 400km. The modular design of the fuel cell means that individual components can be removed and maintained more easily, which the company claims is a step further towards market maturity for fuel cell vehicles.

Further design changes have seen the compressor located at the front of the car; allowing it to run far more quietly than the A-class F-cell.

The design incorporates a sandwich floor, in which the engine and transmission are arranged in an inclined position partly in front and partly beneath the passenger.

As a result, if the vehicle is involved in an impact the drive unit is moved downwards and not backwards into the interior of the car, increasing survival space.

Since 2003, 30 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses equipped with fuel cell technology have been operating in 10 European cities. Three are also running in Perth, Australia and three will soon begin in Beijing.

Rinspeed’s futuristic concept car the Senso  has also made its first public appearance at Geneva. Brainchild of Swiss design maverick Frank Rinderknecht, this innovative take on automotive safety uses a combination of biometric monitoring systems and subtle sensory feedback devices to gauge, and then, if necessary, alter the driver’s mood.