The pre-production vehicle of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F‑CELL, which will be displayed publicly for the first time at this week’s IAA Frankfurt Motor Show, combines the innovative fuel cell and battery technology into a plug-in hybrid. With it, Daimler substantiates its technology leadership and makes a statement within its CASE innovation strategy.

CASE stand for the fields of: networking (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared and Services) and electric drive systems (Electric). Currently, Mercedes-Benz is getting ready for the series production of the fuel cell vehicles.

The Fuel Cell Centre of Competence Nabern east of Stuttgart plays a crucial role in the GLC F‑CELL where about 200 tonnes of hydrogen was used in developments tests over the past two years.

After the first prototypes were roadworthy, the summer and winter road testing of the GLC F‑CELL began. The vehicles were driven on the proving grounds in Spain (IDIADA near Barcelona), Sweden (Arjeplog) and Germany (Boxberg), among others. The road tests also took the test teams to the Sierra Nevada (Spain) and the low mountain ranges of the Schwäbische Alb and the Black Forest in Germany. The test programme comprised more than 500 individual tests, which in addition to the standard test regimen for all vehicles also included special tests for the electric powertrain, the fuel cell, and the interplay of all powertrain components.

The hydrogen tanks are installed in the crash-protected area between the vehicle axles and are protected additionally by a subframe wrapped around the tanks. For the event of a crash, additional extensive measures were implemented such as, for example, a multi-stage valve system as well as special protective circuits for the high-voltage system.

The crash tests conducted with the pre-production GLC F‑CELL and earlier hydrogen vehicles show that the engineers achieved a level of safety comparable to that of conventional vehicles. As a result, the latest F‑CELL generation complies not only with all statutory requirements, but also with the even more rigorous Mercedes-Benz in-house standards.