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With concepts like the F800 and F125 Style (shown) teasing us over the last few years, it appeared that Mercedes-Benz was indeed putting together an exotic, lightweight, fuel cell powered sedan.
Now details have emerged that this vehicle, dubbed the Mercedes E Superlight, which will incorporate ideas from both those concepts is headed for production, due for a release sometime in late 2015. The E Superlight aims to take on Audi’s e-Tron and BMW’s upcoming i8 but will be more advanced than either, employing a very stiff and light carbon fiber structure (allowing for pillarless doors, the rears hinged in coach fashion) and possibly a drivetrain and suspension assembly that’s fully integrated into said structure.
In terms of propulsion, the E Superlight is expected to bow with a 150 horsepower fuel cell, driving the rear wheels in conjunction with a 50 hp electric motor, though conventional gas/diesel engines and possibly a plug-in Hybrid derivative are expected to follow suit.
Mercedes has set fairly ambitous production targets for the E Superlight, aiming to reach series production of some 20,000 units by 2017. However, despite extensive company research and development in fuel cell technology, it will likely be a struggle to achieve that goal, since consumer acceptance and lack of progress on infrastructure development remain two major challenges for fuel cell vehicles.
That said, even a gas or diesel powered E Superlight would make for one interesting and perhaps revolutionary intermediate luxury sedan, a car that could perhaps prove a real game changer in the segment.
[Source: Car Magazine]
Daimler AG has gone on the record as saying that while producing a fuel cell vehicle for under $50,000 by 2015, is difficult, it is still possible.
Herbert Kohler, in-charge of the company’s future mobility and e-drive programs, believes that the cost of fuel cell vehicles will decline rapidly in future years as the technology becomes more widespread.
During an interview with trade publication Automotive News, he said ”by 2015, we think a fuel cell car will not cost more than a four-cylinder diesel hybrid that meets Euro 6 emissions standards.” He also stated that Daimler wants to bring at least a four digit number of fuel cell vehicles to market by 2014.
Ambitious? Perhaps, but he also expects fuel cell vehicles to be more affordable than rival battery powered cars over the next five years. At present, US customers can already lease a fuel cell vehicle from Daimler, in the shape of the Mercedes B-class Blue Efficiency, at a rate of $849 a month plus tax.
However Kohler says that a second generation version of this car, due to be launched around 2013; will likely be cheaper as fuel cell technology becomes more cost effective.
Additional fuel cell Mercedes models, based on the A, C and even the E-class could also be on the roads by mid-decade and provided the company can spread the development costs over a wide range of models, could become the next practical solution in alternative fuel motoring. We’ll keep you posted of any further developments.