Feminists, especially those who responded angrily to our posting of the Worst Female Drivers video, should take comfort in the fact that Bertha Benz, wife of automobile inventor Karl Benz, was the first to take a car on the road for a long distance. With her two kids in tow, Bertha Benz became the first soccer mom in history. Wanting to prove to Karl that his invention was worthwhile, she drove over a hundred kilometers in the Benz Motorwagen back in 1888, leaving Mannheim, Germany, early in the morning, and reaching her mother's house in Pforzheim that evening.
No doubt, Karl stayed behind because he was frustrated that his wife drive's so slow.
All kidding aside, Bertha was one tough chick. It is said that on that noteworthy drive, Bertha had to clean a fuel pipe with her hair pin, rip up her garter to insulate a wire, and find available petrol wherever possible.
So, when we got the press release saying that Mercedes-Benz drove their F-Cell Roadster along that very same route, we thought, "Cool. Way to make a point about the future sustainability hydrogen and electric vehicles." Then, we actually read the release.
Turns out, Mercedes-Benz took the car on a route that was not even half as long as the route undertaken by Bertha Benz. They setup a "finish line," if you can call it that, outside an old chemist's shop in Wiesloch, where Bertha had refueled, not where she had ended her trip. Color us disappointed. We stopped to wonder why Mercedes would try to trick us, by saying that the F-Cell Roadster was "Retracing the first long-distance journey in automobile history," when they barely covered fifty km - if that.
The car's pilot steered with a drive-by-wire system controlled by a joystick. An "emission-free" fuel cell is installed at the back. Also running on conventional electric, the hybrid generates only 1.2 kW of power, capable of pushing the car to a 25 km/h top speed. The alleged operating range is 350 km, but after this excursion we're calling, "Shenanigans!"
"But just as Bertha Benz refused to be discouraged by inconveniences in her day," said Daimler exec Dr. Thomas Weber, "we are just as determined to help ensure that these technologies achieve their breakthrough." Hopefully, this determination will carry through to the next PR stunt undertaken by the F-Cell team.