Historically, in the green energy-powered vehicle hierarchy, there have been hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles aided by a gasoline motor.
Now, however, Mercedes is planning a combination of the two: a plugin-hybrid fuel-cell vehicle. It’s called the GLC F-Cell and it could be the greenest, most eco-friendly car in the world. Before I explain why, let’s look at the details of this green crossover.
Underneath its hood, where an internal combustion engine might normally be found, Mercedes has placed a hydrogen fuel-cell stack that turns hydrogen into electricity. This energy powers an electric motor that turns the car’s rear wheels. The liquid hydrogen is stored in tanks next to the battery in the back of the vehicle.
In the back of the vehicle, there’s also a battery pack, which can be recharged with a wall plug, like a normal plugin-in hybrid or EV. Combined, both power sources allow the car to travel 310 miles on a tank/charge.
That makes the GLC F-Cell virtually no-compromise (unlike, say, the Toyota Mirai), as it is essentially a normal car that happens to be super green.
Though people often don’t like to consider it, the production of the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars like Teslas is a very dirty, energy-intensive and ugly process. As such, the batteries aren’t the greenest solution.
Turns out, though, hydrogen is. When it’s sent through a fuel cell stack to generate electricity, water vapor is the only bi-product. However, the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, compared to gasoline or our electricity grid, is relatively tiny.
So, it stands to reason combining the best of a plug-in hybrid and a fuel-cell car could be both green and easy to live with, as it will have a relatively long range and also virtually no down time between tanks, as hydrogen refueling takes as long as refilling a gasoline tank.
As for price, Mercedes isn’t yet saying. However, it has said it will offer the GLC F-Cell at a “commercial price,” which means it should be relatively affordable.