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).
Van 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.