Mercedes-Benz’s New Fuel Cell Leasing Program to Bring The F-Cell to the US

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Fuel cell cars, though sometimes criticized by automobile manufacturers for their cost, continue to reach for their place in a world that is moving towards a green vehicle revolution. Though the cost issue is a minor point to be concerned about, one of the biggest obstacles preventing fuel cell cars from taking hold is the lack of hydrogen fueling stations in various parts of the world. Many European countries have started working towards plans to spread fueling stations across their territories in order to facilitate companies that are hoping to roll out fleets of fuel cell vehicles. One of those companies is Mercedes-Benz and they are preparing to begin testing their own brand of fuel cell vehicles, not only in Europe, but in the United States as well where hydrogen fueling stations are few and far between.

Mercedes-Benz’s current plan is to lease a small amount of hydrogen fuel cell cars in the United States to interested applicants in order to gauge several factors that could help them decide whether to create a market in the country. The primary goal is to determine just how well their models handle in real world conditions now that they have finished batteries of tests. The other crucial goal they have in mind is to find out just how interested American automobile consumers are in purchasing a hydrogen fuel cell car. Due to the fairly limited network of hydrogen fueling stations that exist in the United States, the leasing and testing program will take place only in the Los Angeles and San Francisco area; an area of the country known for having a slightly more robust hydrogen fueling network than in other parts of the country.

The particular fuel cell car models that Mercedes-Benz plans to make available for the leasing program are two of their B-Class fuel cell variants called F-Cells. Those particular models are powered with both a hydrogen fuel cell system and a lithium ion battery that allows a driver a maximum range of approximately 240 miles. The B-Class will seat four people and is a four door sedan that would suit a variety of purposes, particularly for running to work or errands. Mercedes-Benz has said that given the current price for most hydrogen fueling stations, a B-Class fuel cell car could be filled for approximately fifty to sixty dollars. As gas prices continue to rise, having to fill a hydrogen fuel cell car may be the cheaper alternative in the long run.

If Mercedes-Benz manages to garner enough interest for their fuel cell car models here in the United States, it may not be long before they bring them over here in order to offer them in a full retail setting. If so, they will join the ranks of the other fuel cell companies like Honda that are currently working to try and introduce the alternative fuel choice in the United States.

Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.

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  1. Until fuel cell batteries become substantially cheaper, leasing is probably the best option for financing a hybrid or energy vehicle. Both Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are offering reasonable lease offers on their new energy models. Mercedes is going to have to do the same thing if they want to keep up.

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