23 avr 20

Mercedes no longer believes in hydrogen for cars

The GLC F-Cell is phased out. Instead, the group focuses on developing fuel cells for trucks with Volvo.

According to some, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) offer a great solution to decarbonise our transport – as long as the production of the hydrogen is sustainable. It is a matter of building a green hydrogen economy, reallocating R&D budget and harmonising policy, as is explained in BloombergNEF’s recent study, Hydrogen Economy Outlook.

Interestingly, one of the conclusions of the report is that hydrogen will only make sense economically within a decade – and as far as transport is concerned, only for heavy trucks. Mercedes Trucks and Volvo Trucks must have come to the same findings – they announced a partnership over the next years to develop fuel cells for their long-haul heavy goods vehicles.

The same conclusion now heralds the end of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell, which might gain collector car status given the limited production numbers. The German OEM will no longer be investing in the development of this technology.

Surprisingly, competitor BMW recently announced the technical specifications of a hydrogen-powered X3. It has teamed up with strong FCEV believer Toyota to push the technology forward, while admitting that fuel cell cars lag their electric competitors in terms of development by a good ten years. In 2016, when the cards in its hand were quite different, Audi announced a partnership with the other major hydrogen advocate, Hyundai.

With COVID-19 disrupting the automotive industry, chances are BMW and Audi might reconsider their hydrogen projects and concentrate on BEVs. With battery cell prices coming down and range increasing, while charging infrastructure keeps expanding and charging times are getting shorter, hydrogen-powered passenger cars seem to run out of arguments.

Picture copyright: Mercedes-Benz, 2020

Authored by: Dieter Quartier