While other carmakers prepare for the imminent launch of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is taking its time.
Speaking at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes head of sales and marketing Ola Kallenius told Australia’s Motoring that his company is still interested in fuel cells, but that it may be a few years before a production hydrogen Benz hits the streets.
Kallenius pointed to a “2017-ish timeframe” for that vehicle, which may be an SUV. Mercedes has already envisioned a hydrogen-powered 4×4 for the year 2025 – the Ener-G-Force (pictured) was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show two years ago.
He said the main drawback to hydrogen at this stage is lack of a refueling infrastructure. After all, according to the United States Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are only 10 hydrogen fueling stations in the US.
Mercedes is no stranger to hydrogen. It launched the F-Cell – a prototype car based on the B-Class hatchback – in 2010 and tested it on public roads. However, with so few fueling stations available, the German carmaker has decided to let others test the waters first.
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell will launch in California later this year, followed by fuel-cell cars from Honda and Toyota next year. The latter two will be entirely new designs, rather than conversions of existing models, and will presumably be offered outside the Golden State.
Nonetheless, Honda and Toyota – as well as Hyundai – may be betting on an expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure in California. Last year, the state approved $20 million a year for station construction through 2024.
That means there should be at least a few more places to refuel a hydrogen car in California in 2017, but the situation elsewhere is still up for speculation.
Luckily for the shareholders, Mercedes is hedging its bets when it comes to green technology. The B-Class Electric Drive is set to launch later this year, while an electric S-Class is a possibility further down the road.