• Mar 17, 2011
Mercedes-Benz F-Cell World Drive – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Mercedes-Benz F-Cell World drive recently rolled into Hollywood, California, a full 5,651 miles from where we last parted ways with the round-the-world hydrogen-promoting caravan. After we left the driver's seat in Paris, the group finished up their Western Europe route in Portugal. The three hydrogen-powered vehicles (and their support contingent) were then airlifted from Lisbon to Miami aboard a 747 cargo jet. Wheels firmly on U.S. soil, the convoy crossed the country with stops in New Orleans, San Antonio and Phoenix before arriving in Southern California. After a brief stay, they will head north to Vancouver before a second overseas flight to Sydney to start another cross-continent jaunt.

While checking out the car, still riding on snow tires even though temps were in the mid-70s, we were fortunate enough to meet Vance Van Petten, the Executive Director of the Producers Guild of America. He happens to be the owner of the first first F-Cell to be delivered to a customer in the United States (technically, the vehicle is acquired on a a special F-Cell lease program).

Mercedes-Benz F-Cell World DriveVan Petten was kind enough to give us some insight as to what it has been like living with a hydrogen vehicle for the past several months. Long story short, the F-Cell's three high-pressure hydrogen gas cylinders (holding about 8.2 pounds of fuel) are good for about 150 "real world" miles between fill-ups in the Los Angeles basin, says Van Petten. While that operation circle isn't bad (especially compared to the pure-EV offerings), consumers will likely demand at least 250 miles between fuel stops if the technology is to replace combustion engines. Van Petten says his F-Cell (thankfully painted silver, not fluorescent green like the World Drive models) has been fun to drive and perfectly reliable. It also gets more than its share of attention – he spends a lot of time explaining the difference between his F-Cell's fuel cell technology and hydrogen vehicles that consume liquid hydrogen via combustion (like the BMW Hydrogen 7).

Check our our high-res image gallery below... after all, with so few of these cars roaming the roads of the world, you're not likely to see one live and in the flesh on a roadway near you.

Photos copyright ©2011 Michael Harley / AOL

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      We really should be investigating hydrogen powered vehicles more than we currently are. There really aren't that many downsides to it, other than it being ridiculously expensive to produce at the moment.

      I think the EV is somewhat of a band-aid and technology hasn't yet evolved to support it, eventually we will get there but there are still downsides such as battery production and disposal.

      Sadly, I don't think ICE will be around for another 100 years but if we found a suitable alternative I'd be happy. Oh, and don't forget about us enthusiasts that like fast vehicles!
        • 3 Years Ago
        "We really should be investigating hydrogen powered vehicles"

        While others like MB, BMW are still show boating and parading around in pseudo fuel cell vehicles for brand image purposes, Honda already has one you can lease.

      • 3 Years Ago
      The M-B fuel cell car parade is in Vancouver right now, just walked past them at the Pacific Rim Fairmont downtown today at lunchtime.
      Spoke with one of the M-B engineers about his take on reliability and he said that the trip was "boring" in that regard - nothing's going wrong!
      Good shake down cruise although the airlift and remote region supply of hydrogen is probably eating into their carbon karma points count.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Fuel cell power for cars "might" but the future, but it is seemingly 10-15 years off in terms of providing the infrastructure to supply the hydrogen. Hopefully larger and higher pressure containment tanks for the cars and more available sources for resupply could emerge sooner.

      And around Sacramento fuel cell vehicles are NOT that impossible or even unlikely to be seen. As the site of the "California Fuel Cell Partnership" program, such cars appear all over the area. One of my neighbors works for the CFCP and she brings home these test fleet cars ALL the time. Not that long ago, one of the Mercedes fuel cell cars was parked in her driveway !
      • 3 Years Ago
      The F-Cell Entourage made its last pit-stop in Seattle today. I was able to drive the car a few blocks before the whole team had to pack up and head to the airport to catch their plane to Australia.

      The car ride was great, very quiet and smooth ride. It was very much like driving a Prius or any other hybrid out there, which is a good thing because that means that average people would be able to use it without any problems.

      Check out the gallery here