While the 1,000-horsepower Project One demonstrates Mercedes' ability to build a world-beating hypercar, the German brand shows a dedication to being green in Frankfurt with the reveal of models like the EQ A Concept, Vision EQ Fortwo, and this pre-production GLC F-Cell. The latter of the group is the automaker’s functioning idea for a fuel-cell-powered luxury crossover that an owner can also plug in to charge the drive batteries.
The unique powertrain makes the special GLC a plug-in hybrid but with a fuel cell stack, instead of a combustion engine. The layout offers a total output of 197 horsepower (147 kilowatts) and 258 pound-feet (350 Newton-meters) of torque. The setup gives an estimated range of 272 miles (437 kilometers) in the New European Driving Cycle test.
The fuel cell portion of the powertrain includes a total of 9.7 pounds (4.4 kilograms) of hydrogen in two carbon-fiber tanks. One fits in the spot that’s usually for the driveshaft, and the other is under the rear seats. The only slight downside is a small raised area in the luggage compartment, like the GLC Plug-in Hybrid. Compared to the fuel cell in the B-Class, the new technology in the GLC is 30 percent smaller, which lets it fit in the engine bay’s now mounting points, and makes 40 percent more output. The production also uses 90 percent less platinum, which reduces costs.
The electric drivetrain includes a 13.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that allows for 30 miles (49 kilometers) on a charge.
Drivers can select how these two systems operate together by selecting from several settings. Hybrid is a normal mode that selects which powertrain to use. F-Cell prioritizes the hydrogen system. Battery puts the emphasis on the electric side of things, and Charge maximizes the powertrain charging the batteries.
Other than some F-Cell badges and blue accents, this GLC looks like the rest of the lineup. Inside, the model features a multifunction touchpad with handwriting recognition, which debuts on this model in Frankfurt.
Mercedes currently has a test fleet of GLC F-Cells. The company is still deciding how to bring them to market, including considering whether to sell or rent the models to customers. The company expects to have it in the United States by the end of 2019.
Gallery: 2018 Mercedes GLC F-Cell official images
GLC F-CELL goes into preproduction: world's first
electric vehicle with fuel-cell/battery powertrain
Stuttgart/Frankfurt. At this year's IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt,
Mercedes-Benz is presenting preproduction models of the new Mercedes-Benz
GLC F-CELL as the next milestone on the road to emission-free driving. Under
the technology designation EQ Power, the latest electric model (destined for
subsequent series production) is set to combine innovative fuel-cell and battery
technology in the form of a plug-in hybrid: in addition to hydrogen, the allelectric
variant of the popular SUV will also run on electricity. Intelligent
interplay between battery and fuel cell, along with short refueling times, will in
future make the GLC F-CELL a vehicle of high everyday practicality and also
suitable for long-distance motoring. With 4.4 kg of hydrogen on board, the
preproduction model produces enough energy for a range of up to 437* km in
the NEDC. F-CELL drivers will also benefit from a range of up to 49 km in the
NEDC thanks to the large lithium-ion battery. An output of 147 kW guarantees
both dynamic performance and locally zero emissions driving pleasure. In
unveiling the preproduction vehicles of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL, Daimler
is taking another important step as part of its systematic "CASE" strategy.
Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for
Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, emphasizes: "Our many
years of experience with fuel-cell technology pay dividends in the new GLC FCELL:
its long electric range, short refueling times and everyday practicality of an
SUV will make it the perfect vehicle. This is made possible by the compact
construction of our fuel-cell system. Another genuine world first is the combination
with a large additional lithium-ion battery, which can be conveniently charged using
Fuel-cell technology is a firm element of Daimler's powertrain strategy. Under the
EQ product brand, the company is pooling its know-how related to intelligent
electric mobility while offering a comprehensive e-mobility ecosystem of products,
services, technologies and innovations. EQ is therefore a key part of the company's
strategy for the mobility of the future, known at Daimler as "CASE." The four letters
stand for the strategic future pillars of networking (Connected), autonomous driving
(Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric),
which are being systematically further developed and intelligently combined by the
company. Between now and 2022, Daimler intends to bring out ten battery-electric
vehicles, globally, with the GLC F-CELL representing an important landmark.
Unique: two electric energy sources
The vehicles unveiled at the IAA represent a world first in which a fuel-cell-operated
electric car uses a lithium-ion battery as an additional energy source that can be
externally charged by means of plug-in technology. Through intelligent interplay, the
two energy sources drive the electric motor while offering locally zero emissions
driving pleasure. The long range, short refueling time, an output of 197 hp and the
latest generation of assistance systems with powertrain-specific features
demonstrate, based on the models on show, that the GLC F-CELL will be a familyfriendly
electric vehicle of high everyday practicality.
For this world first, the Mercedes-Benz engineers cooperated closely with partners
from the Daimler competence network to develop a completely new fuel-cell
system. Compared with the B-Class F-CELL, which has been on the market since
2010, the overall drive system offers around 40 percent more output. The fuel-cell
system is around 30 percent more compact than before, can for the first time be
housed entirely in the engine compartment and is installed on the usual mounting
points like a conventional engine. Also, the use of platinum in the fuel cell has been
reduced by 90 percent. This conserves resources while lowering the system costs
– with no compromises in terms of performance.
The lithium-ion battery in the preproduction vehicles on show has a gross capacity
of 13.8 kWh and additionally serves as an energy source for the electric motor. For
the first time, it can also be charged externally using plug-in technology. An
intelligent operating strategy in combination with the fuel-cell/battery system
offers maximum efficiency and comfort. Just like the drive motor, the powerful
storage battery is space-savingly installed in the rear of the SUV. By means of the
7.2 kW on-board chargers, it can be conveniently charged from a standard
household power socket, a wallbox or a public charging station. The charging time
is around 1.5 hours if the full capacity is used.
Two carbon-fiber-encased tanks built into the vehicle floor hold around 4.4 kg of
hydrogen. Thanks to globally standardized 700 bar tank technology, the supply of
hydrogen can be replenished within just three minutes, which is about the same
amount of time it takes to refuel a car with an internal combustion engine.
The F-CELL vehicles on show at the IAA are powered by an asynchronous machine
with an output of 197 hp and a torque of 258 lb-ft. As the electric drive requires no
propeller shaft, this makes room for one of the two hydrogen tanks, while the
second tank is installed under the rear seat bench.
Coordinated: operating strategy with unique variety of combinations
Like the GLC Plug-in Hybrid, the fuel-cell variant comes with various operating
modes and drive programs. The drive programs of the GLC F-CELL will include ECO,
COMFORT and SPORT. ECO is optimized for low consumption. COMFORT is geared
not only for comfort, but also provides ideal climate control. SPORT optimizes the
hybrid powertrain for sporty performance.
While the drive programs change the behavior of the car and therefore the driving
experience, the operating modes influence the interplay between fuel cell and highvoltage
battery. The combination of drive programs with operating modes is
presented for the first time in this form in a fuel-cell vehicle.
Freedom of choice: four operating modes HYBRID – F-CELL – BATTERY –
The innovative plug-in fuel-cell powertrain combines the advantages of both
emission-free technologies and, thanks to its intelligent operating strategy,
constantly ensures that the use of both energy sources is optimally adapted to the
particular operating situation.
In HYBRID operating mode, the vehicle draws power from both energy sources.
Power peaks are handled by the battery, while the fuel cell runs in the optimum
efficiency range. The intelligent operating strategy means that the characteristics
of both energy sources can be ideally exploited.
In F-CELL mode, the state of charge of the high-voltage battery is kept constant by
the energy from the fuel cell. Driving almost exclusively on hydrogen is the ideal
mode if the intention is to keep the electric range in reserve for certain driving
In BATTERY mode, the GLC F-CELL runs all-electrically and is powered by the high-
voltage battery. The fuel-cell system is not in operation. This is the ideal mode for
In CHARGE mode, charging the high-voltage battery has priority, for example in
order to recharge the battery for the maximum overall range prior to refueling with
hydrogen. This mode also creates power reserves for uphill or very dynamic driving.
In all operating modes, the system features an energy recovery function, which
makes it possible to recover energy during braking or coasting and to store it in the
Safety first: getting there safely
Daimler applies extremely high safety standards in all its vehicles. This is true of
both vehicles with a conventional internal combustion engine and also those with
an alternative drive. This means that the vehicles comply with all legal standards
and regulations. However, the internal safety requirements for Mercedes-Benz
vehicles go one step further. The battery and all hydrogen-containing components
are governed by particularly stringent safety standards typical of Mercedes.
Alongside safety in the event of a crash, all Mercedes-Benz vehicles undergo
additional component tests at system level that go far beyond the usual tests. The
powertrain components and hydrogen tanks of the F-CELL preproduction vehicles
are space-savingly and safely housed in the engine compartment as well as under
Like all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the fuel-cell vehicles, too, are exemplary in terms
of active and passive safety. With Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Lane Tracking
Package with Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist, Parking Package
with 360° camera or COMAND with traffic sign recognition, the GLC F-CELL will
come with safety and comfort built in as standard.
Self-assured: with the DNA of a genuine Mercedes
The GLC F-CELL models on show at the IAA demonstrate the high expectations on
a Mercedes-Benz and all Mercedes-Benz brand values in terms of comfort,
sustainability, safety, quality and design. When it comes to loading capacity and
occupant comfort, the electric SUV will offer excellent everyday practicality. The
only differences will be a minimal step in the luggage compartment, familiar from
the GLC Plug-in-Hybrid, and the slightly raised rear seat bench due to the
positioning of the hydrogen tanks. Climate comfort in the GLC F-CELL will also be
totally on a par with that in a conventional vehicle. Automatic air conditioning with
pre-entry climate control as well as heated seats and mirrors are included as
standard. At cooler temperatures, the vehicle will make energy-efficient use of the
waste heat from the fuel cell in order to optimize the energy balance of the vehicle.
The series-production vehicle, like the preproduction models, will be equipped with
coil springs on the front axle and with single-chamber air suspension with integral
automatic level control on the rear axle. This means that, even when the vehicle is
carrying a load, there is no change in spring travel on the rear axle, which
guarantees balanced vibration characteristics with a virtually constant natural
frequency of the body, including when the vehicle is loaded.
Unmistakable: Touches in the style of EQ Power
The F-CELL models on display at the IAA embody the current Mercedes-Benz
design philosophy of Sensual Purity. The design premises include features that
emphasize the special status in general and within the GLC family in particular.
These design premises are the formal on-road attributes and the technical
modifications to the exterior and interior as well as the control and display concept.
Blue touches on the radiator grille and light-alloy wheels, side skirts and rear
bumper on the one hand, as well as classy style wraps with F-CELL inscription on
the other, provide a clearly visible indication of the fuel-cell drive. Specifically styled
bumpers, with an enlarged air inlet at the front, as well as aerodynamically
optimized 20-inch wheels are the hallmarks of the vehicles on show at the IAA.
The interior impresses with its high-grade look & feel and flowing forms as a
reinterpretation of contemporary luxury. The center console features elegant trim
with flowing lines exuding unique exclusivity in a piano-lacquer look or versatile
modern wood surfaces.
Precision-styled details and the choice of authentic materials by using open-pore
wood as trim and a high proportion of wool and linen for the fabric covers, make for
an agreeable ambience while contributing to the classy overall impression of the
The cockpit will be further enhanced by the instrument cluster in the form of a full
display with 12.3-inch diagonal. Information from the COMAND system is
presented on the 10.25-inch central display. The menus and indicators on the
displays are geared to the functionality of the combined fuel-cell/battery
powertrain. The new-type design style clearly differentiates the fuel-cell vehicle
from the conventional GLC.
New in the GLC F-CELL is the multifunction touchpad with handwriting recognition,
which celebrates its world debut at the IAA in the unveiled preproduction vehicles.
This newly developed feature allows telematics functions to be controlled by singleor
multi-finger gestures (so-called Multitouch). The touchpad thus offers a fullfunction
and innovative input option over and above LINGUATRONIC in
combination with COMAND. The touchpad also makes it possible to enter letters,
numbers and special characters by means of handwriting. Further control options
are offered by Touch Control buttons on the left and right of the steering wheel as
well as by voice control.
Timed to perfection: on the road to series production
Daimler is systematically working to prepare for series production of the MercedesBenz
GLC F-CELL. With the current test fleet, the Mercedes-Benz engineers are
taking the final key steps on the road to production start-up. Market-specific sales
concepts, including a rental model, are being evaluated at present. Like the
conventionally powered GLC, this family-friendly SUV of high everyday practicality
will be produced in Bremen.
During development and production of the innovative fuel-cell drive, Daimler is able
to call upon its global competence network. The centerpiece of the technology, the
fuel-cell stack, was developed in Vancouver, Canada, together with partner Ford in
the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC) joint venture. Production takes place
directly nearby at Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell (MBFC). The entire fuel-cell unit and the
hydrogen storage system were developed by the Daimler subsidiary NuCellSys in
Kirchheim/Nabern in Baden-Württemberg. The Daimler parent plant in
Untertürkheim is responsible for fuel-cell system assembly, also in Nabern. The
hydrogen tank system, consisting of carbon-fiber-encased tanks, is produced at
Daimler's Mannheim plant, while the lithium-ion battery comes from the wholly
owned Daimler subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE in Kamenz, Saxony.
Infrastructure is key
A nationwide infrastructure is essential for the success of electric mobility.
The spread of both charging stations and hydrogen filling stations is proceeding
apace around the world. Whether at home, at work, on the road or when shopping:
there are various ways to supply electric vehicles with power. Also when it comes
to H2 infrastructure, progress is constantly being made. Together with its partners
in the H2 Mobility joint venture, Daimler has already drawn up a concrete action
plan. The network of H2 filling stations is scheduled to reach 100 by the end of
next year. By 2023, there will be a network of up to 400 hydrogen filling stations.
Similar infrastructure projects are being promoted in Europe, the USA and Japan.
Systematic approach: Daimler opts for electric mobility with fuel cell
It all began back in the 1980s, when Daimler researchers turned their attention to
cold combustion. In 1994, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first fuel-cell vehicle to the
global public – the NECAR 1. Many further vehicles followed, including the A-Class
F-CELL fleet. In 2011, special attention focused on the F-CELL World Drive, the first
round-the-world journey in fuel-cell vehicles. In 2015, the F 015 Luxury in Motion
concept car presented an F-CELL plug-in hybrid drive system, designed for 1,100
kilometers of zero emissions motoring. To date, fuel-cell vehicles from MercedesBenz,
including the B-Class F-CELL and the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid urban bus, have
together covered over eighteen million kilometers, thereby demonstrating the
maturity of the powertrain concept. The next technological advance is now
imminent: the GLC F-CELL.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL will celebrate its World Premiere at the 2017
Frankfurt International Auto Show in September, and will go on sale in the U.S. by
the end of 2019