Mercedes announces F-Cell World Drive
"Around the world in 125 days". At the North American Auto Show in Detroit, Mercedes announced Monday an "unparalleled long-distance journey – the F-CELL World Drive". Mercedes will drive the B-Class F-CELL over four continents in 125 days; a demonstration of the viability of fuel cell vehicles. The cars will be driven in climates and on surfaces that Mercedes claims "would not be possible, using purely battery-powered electric vehicles."
Fuel cell vehicles hold the promise of emission free transportation with no reliance on carbon based fuels, and performance that matches or exceeds the levels of gasoline powered vehicles. And unlike current battery technology, range and refueling time is similar to that of our current gasoline powered cars.
And there's the rub...how do you refuel these things?
You can't just drive into your local BP station and put your credit card into the Hydrogen pump (yet). But, according to Fuel Cell 2000 (www.fuelcells.org), there ARE about 2500 stationary fuel cell installations around the world, primarily for power/backup power. And they all need a steady supply of hydrogen. In addition, most vehicle manufacturers have been developing fuel cell vehicles for quite some time, and have refueling facilities to support their development (I've been to Toyota's in Torrance California).
Now Merecedes probably won't pull up to the pump at Toyota's refueling station (who knows...), but it has figured out a way to refuel along the way; Linde AG, suppliers of industrial gasses, will refuel the cars. Apparently the cars will take advantage of existing Linde sites and "subsidiaries" where possible, and a Linde tanker truck where no facilities exist.
Publicity stunt? Sure. But imagine what the infant auto industry faced back at the beginning of the 20th century. The automobile was an invention with promise, the "horseless carriage" that might actually transform the world as it was known...
...if you could only refuel the thing.