2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell
Man-made climate change is a hot topic and, regardless of your beliefs about the effect of man-made emissions on the global climate, it’s inevitable that the internal combustion engine will eventually be all but wiped out of existence. With various world governments committing to an all-out ban of non-electric vehicles, automakers aren’t slowing down the process either, with just about every major manufacturer having jumped on the alternative fuels wagon in one way or another in recent years. Mercedes, for example, is following Toyota’s lead and looking to hydrogen as a viable solution to combat emissions and has already proven its viability with cars like the B-Class F-CELL and the Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid – two vehicles that have logged more than seven million miles in test runs. Now, Mercedes has introduced the GLC F-Cell, the world’s first plug-in fuel-cell vehicle. As such, the GLC F-Cell promises as much as 301 miles from just 9.7 pounds of hydrogen and the 13.8-kWh battery. And, it does so while producing around 200 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque– more than enough to get you up to speed.
With hydrogen availability expanding, that’s certainly good news, but we’re not there quite yet. Outside of the electric and hydrogen powertrain, the GLC F-Cell also sports its own unique look in comparison to the ICE-powered GLC-Class, so it will even stand out in the crowd. Now, it may not have that internal combustion engine or even the 241 horsepower afforded by the standard model’s 2.0-liter, but it will still please all of you purists out there as it does have all of the Mercedes DNA that you’ve come to love and find it impossible to live without. So, now that the GLC F-Cell has made its official debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, let’s take a good look at it and see what it’s all about.
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Mercedes Launches First Production Hydrogen Hybrid With GLC F-Cell
The latest crop of green alternative passenger vehicles is making the rounds at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and Mercedes is getting in on the action with a brand-new hybrid SUV. It’s called the GLC F-Cell, and it’s touted as the world’s very first production-ready hydrogen hybrid vehicle. Flying the German automaker’s EQ Power banner, also known as the go-to branding for Merc’s various green solutions, the GLC F-Cell is essentially an SUV that combines plug-in all-electric battery power with hydrogen fuel cell power. The marriage of these two alternative power sources hopes to find a synergy whereby benefits are maximized and disadvantages are minimized, combining the quick refill times of hydrogen power and the long-range capability of electrified assistance, all without the traditional explodey dino juice normally associated with “typical” hybrid vehicles.
The new SUV is part of the latest Mercedes product strategy to produce 10 new battery-electric models by the year 2022. The GLC F-Cell is also a modern addition to the Mercedes CASE strategy, an acronym that stands for, Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, and Electric. And while the SUV has yet to show anything terribly noteworthy in terms of connected, autonomous, or sharing features, the novel hybrid stuff is more than worthy of the attention of anyone interested in powertrain technology development. Read on for the specs and details.
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Kia to Launch 14 New Alternative-Fuel Vehicles by the Turn of the Decade
The standard internal combustion engine is seeing competition from all sorts of possible substitutions, and now, it looks like Kia will add to the mix through the release of over a dozen new models. For the moment, there are little to no specifics, but the plan does include 14 new models equipped with alternative powertrains, including all-electrics and hybrids, as well as a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The new high-tech offerings will supposedly see a release over the course of the next four years, with the fuel cell vehicle arriving towards the end of that schedule in 2020.
The news comes courtesy of the U.K. publication AutoCar, which quotes Kia’s European head, Michael Cole. Cole told the outlet about Kia’s plans to release the new lineup globally by the end of the decade as the automaker attempts to broaden its sales numbers and its customer base.
Kia recently released its new Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle, and is expected to add a plug-in EV variant of the same model sometime soon. The extra EV compact crossover should help bolster Kia’s current alternative powertrain lineup, with older offerings including the Optima hybrid and Soul EV.
Additional future models include a forthcoming Optima hybrid wagon. As for models with more conventional powertrains, Kia is expected to release a small Nissan Juke fighter sometime soon, as well as a sportier halo car that’ll be a production version of the 2011 GT concept.
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Toyota to Sell Fuel Cell-Powered Bus in 2017
Toyota has just announced it will be producing hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses in 2017 in preparation before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The automaker will work with Hino Motors, a subsidiary of Toyota, to build more than 100 examples of the FC Bus. The city bus will be assigned to fixed routes around the city to help “increase the level of understanding by the general public of the utilization of FC buses as a form of public transportation.”
The bus will run on fuel cell technology similar to that found in the Toyota Mirai. A maximum of 303 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque will come from two AC synchronous motors powered by a Nickel-metal hydride battery with a maximum external output of nine kW. The 10 on-board fuel takes hold 600 liters, or the equivalent of 235 kWh of power. What’s more, the FC Bus can be used to power emergency shelters in the event of a disaster, so long as the building has a compatible plug-in.
Toyota says it has already been field-testing the FC Bus. Initially, two FC Buses will be assigned a fixed route in downtown Tokyo. More Toyota buses will come online afterward, with at least 100 being planed before 2020. This is only part of Tokyo’s Bureau of Transportation’s plan to have more than 6,000 fuel cell vehicles registered in Tokyo before the big games. Government officials have tapped both Toyota and Honda to help spearhead the initiative.
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Toyota Receives U.K. Government Funding For The Toyota Mirai FCV
The U.K. Government just decided to commit 600 million pounds to fund the proliferation of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020. Included in that sum is a sizable amount earmarked for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, or FCV’s, and Toyota is getting in on the action with its H2-powered Mirai four-door sedan.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of bringing the benefits of ultra-low emission transport to the U.K. and welcome the Government’s announcement of funding that will enable more of our customers to introduce Mirai to their fleets,” said Paul Van der Burgh, Toyota’s U.K. President and Managing Director, in a press release.
Included in the investment will be 20 new Mirais slated to join various public and private sector fleets. Destinations set for delivery include the Science Museum, Aberdeen City Council, and Arval vehicle leasing service, all of which will use Toyota’s FCV for fleet purposes. The new Mirais are expected to see use by April of 2017.
In addition to actual cars, Toyota will provide support by opening new FCV specialist service centers throughout the U.K. These new service stations will be located in London, Swindon, Sheffield, Swansea, and Aberdeen.
As Toyota points out, Britain is ramping up its national H2 infrastructure network with new H2 refueling sites as well. The latest to open is located at the Center of Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence in Rainham, east London, where there also just so happens to be a Toyota Technical Training Center that offers instruction in fuel cell technology. The new station is the second in the U.K. to produce H2 fuel using solar energy.
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Hyundai has led the fight to bring hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to the public for some time now, having achieved its goal in 2015 on a small scale with the ix35 crossover. Now the automaker is planning greater things with its sister company, Kia.
Sae-Hoon Kim, Hyundai-Kia’s head of hydrogen fuel cell research, said in an interview with AutoCar, “We will launch a dedicated vehicle, although it is not clear what vehicle type it will be based around.” Kim’s comments come after Toyota’s release of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle that rides on its own unique platform and boasts its own styling.
“Developing a bespoke car offers clear advantages,” Kim continues. “For instance, the larger the radiators on a fuel cell car the better, and you can see on the Mirai that they have developed a cooling solution that helps with that scenario.” It’s implied that creating a vehicle around the fuel cell powertrain is much simpler, rather than modifying an existing platform for fuel cell use.
Hyundai obviously hasn’t officially announced what type of vehicle its fuel cell vehicle will be, but sticking with a crossover platform is highly likely thanks to how well crossovers and SUVs selling.
Kim further divulged the automaker is aiming for a 500-mile range per fill-up with a top speed of 110 mph. Hyundai’s current fuel cell, the ix35, has a range of 375 miles with a 100-mph top end. Simply adding a larger hydrogen storage tank will extend the range, though more power or better aerodynamics will be needed for the increase in top speed.
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With the 2016 Toyota Mirai hitting dealerships this October, customers interested in buying or leasing one of these hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can now put one on order. Production of the zero-emission sedan will be limited to just 3,000 units for the U.S. market (5,700 units globally) through 2017, so Toyota is encouraging “select, eligible customers” to sign up early, which they can do here.
For now, the Mirai will only be available through just eight Toyota dealers, all located in California (near L.A. and San Francisco), but earlier this year, Toyota mentioned plans to offer the vehicle in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. According to a map on Toyota’s website, there are currently just three hydrogen fueling stations (all in the L.A. area), but an additional 46 are planned in California, stretching from San Diego up to around Lake Tahoe.
Upon its introduction, the 2016 Toyota Mirai will be priced at $57,500 – not including any applicable state or federal tax incentives – or a $499 per month for a 36-month lease with $3,649 down. Despite its limited production and high starting price, the Mirai will surely be popular among environmentally minded drivers, with a range of 300 miles, five minutes to refuel and exhaust emissions that consist solely of water vapor.
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