Mercedes presents hydrogen fuel cell Sprinter concept
Daimler is betting big on electric mobility, not only for its passenger cars, but also regarding its light commercial vehicle line up. Under the eDrive@VANs programme, all commercial model series are to be electrified in the coming years, starting with the eVito, available in the second half of 2018.
The eSprinter is the next van to go ‘e’, 2019. In the meantime, Mercedes will start testing prototypes of a fuel-cell powered Sprinter, called F-Cell. Like the GLC with the same suffix, it draws electricity from either the hydrogen stored in cylindrical tanks in the underbody, or a small battery pack that can be charged externally.
That makes this Sprinter F-Cell the first ‘plug in hybrid’ zero-emission van ever, combining electricity produced in the fuel cell with current stored in the battery pack.
Up to 500 km
In a nutshell, the benefits of a fuel cell vehicle are its long range, low system weight with maximum design freedom and fast refuelling.
“The potential of this technology is undisputed. That applies above all to comparatively large vans with a need for long range and short refuelling times. Our analyses demonstrate that the fuel cell can represent a sensible expansion of the powertrain line-up in a number of different applications in both the commercial and private arenas. The Concept Sprinter F-Cell provides an insight today into the possibilities of the future”, explains Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
There is a problem, however: the lack of hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. That is why Mercedes adds a battery pack – albeit a relatively small one. It extends the range by a mere 30 km at best – but that could suffice to get to the next hydrogen pump.
The Concept Sprinter F-Cell delivers an electric output of around 147 kW and torque of 350 Nm. The three tanks in the substructure can store a total of 4.5 kilograms of hydrogen, enough for a range of around 300 kilometres. If a longer range is required, the hydrogen tanks integrated into the vehicle underbody can be supplemented by another in the rear. This configuration lifts the range to as much as 500 kilometres.
Picture copyright: Mercedes-Benz, 2018