If you're interested in new advanced vehicle technologies, it's important to gain feedback from early adopters. That's why Mark Vaughn, senior editor (west coast) for Autoweek, met with four men who drive around in a Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell. They're not your typical drivers; they're an elite group of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle fans leasing an F-Cell for $599 a month (cheaper than it one was): Jin Takamura is a former auto industry analyst and marketing executive; Ian Sanders retired after a career at Garrett Turbo; Loki Efaw is a bank vice president in charge of IT; and Heesoo Lee owns Worklab CC, a collaborative tech studio.

They're not exactly F-Cell zealots, but it is typical for people to approach them and ask about the vehicles, Takamura said. He offers them a quick Fuel Cell Vehicle 101, explaining fuel cells, electric motors, hydrogen and the future of transportation. They also tell the curious that patience is key, repeating the old joke being that "hydrogen fuel cells are the powertrain of the future, always have been and always will be," according to the article. "I remember reading a magazine article about them in 1963. I thought, 'That seems like an interesting idea,'" Sanders said.

All four see hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles as the most logical transition away from petroleum. Efaw was looking at compressed natural gas and electric vehicles. "Then this opportunity came," he said. He finds it to be less of a hassle than driving an EV. Lee liked the fact that there was no range anxiety and no special outlet required at his house. "It felt like the next jump instead of being a bridge gap – an EV driven by hydrogen," he said. You can read more from these F-Cell pioneers over in the full article.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 79 Comments
      Michael Walsh
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cheaper that it ONCE was. Run your stuff by an editor, as well as through a spell-checker!
        Jesse Gurr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Michael Walsh
        Spell checker wouldn't have caught that. "One" was spelled correctly. :P
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      $599/month? Ouch. They could lease 3 small EVs for that.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        That price includes fuel, maintenance, and insurance. Not to mention the status included with driving a very rare Mercedes. When that's taken into account, it's a pretty fair price.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          So does the hydrogen provider, already prepaid by the automaker... limit the driver on the fuel?
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Sorry, my answer above is to your first question. As to the second, undoubtedly.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I couldn't answer that. FCV drivers typically have a code they enter in order to get the pump to operate.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          How is fuel prepaid? Does MB have contract with H2 providers?
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I don't have that info. There may be an overall mileage limitation on the lease - that's a good question.
      Greg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Those people are stupid - “I believe it's the future,” said Efaw. “As we get more infrastructure we'll be able to drive longer distances.” So, you can't drive far, but they have less range anxiety than EVs? The don't need a special plug, but how then does the hydrogen get into the car? Recharge times can be an issue for EVs, but that's only if you out-drive their range in a given day. Other than that, they didn't identify a single benefit of hydrogen over electricity.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Greg
        They are just repeating the same marketing lines they were given when they leased the FCV. They must feel nice and comfortable, knowing they have access to an H2 station. Problem being, most will not have that access... and will not own a FCV if they cannot fuel up.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      These select lessees are an easy marketing tool. They have the all prerequisites needed to accommodate FCV leases without change to their driving habits. Living and working within a small radius of the few Los Angeles H2 stations. The problem is VERY few potential buyers meet this prerequisite. A similar argument was made for EVs. Opponents exclaimed how millions and millions of potential buyers had longer commutes and/or no garages to install EVSEs. Good thing for EVs, there were still millions who DID have medium/short commutes and had garages to charge.... and thus, had all the prerequisites for EV ownership. This was enough to get EVs launched. Right now, VERY few (I would guess only a couple thousand) have the prerequisites for FCV ownership. This is NOT enough to get Hydrogen started. FCVs have a "Chicken and Egg" problem which means that not enough potential buyers will have this prerequisite until MANY more H2 stations are spread out over large areas. And nobody is going to build these stations until there is the demand of tens of thousands of FCV drivers on the road within a short time. Stalemate! And showing the Merry Few FCV drivers doesn't address this problem. They got there deal. They are the lucky prize winners and are part of the marketing and demonstration of Automakers and Hydrogen producers. They do NOT represent the satisfaction that would be to come, of the masses wanting to buy FCVs but live or work too far from the H2 stations.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        "Right now, VERY few (I would guess only a couple thousand) have the prerequisites for FCV ownership." The one prerequisite you focus on, is access to a hydrogen station. Most people are willing to acknowledge that more stations can be built - your entire argument against FCVs is that more stations won't be built... That said, how many people live within range of the same hydrogen stations that these FCV driver use?
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yay for PHEVs!
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      It only takes a few minutes to fill a hydrogen tank. That has been verified by thousands of documented fills. As to the cost - well, we don't know yet. We know that it will certainly be cheaper than gasoline, which is the only metric that really matters at the moment.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      So no argument against the content of my post? Just the misused term?
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rush and Roulette was an attempt for a humorous play on words... fell flat I guess. That's twice in one thread you've focused more on my use of words that have little to do with the content of my argument.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      "The hydrogen lobby is playing rush and roulette..." Seriously? It's "Russian Roulette" - and that's a metaphor for suicide. If the Hydrogen Lobby were metaphorically playing Russian Roulette, they would be trying to kill themselves...
      Jesse Gurr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh it's possible. But that would mean that H2 stations that aren't used that often would be used even less. If PHFC(plug-in hybrid fuel cell) vehicles were made then the fuel cell won't be used as much and would visit the H2 station less often. We have heard the stories about PHEV drivers plugging in as much as they can to avoid using the gas ICE, I bet the same would happen with PHFC drivers. So to sum up, yes its possible, but if these people want fuel cell cars to take hold, then PHFCs will not happen for a long time, if ever.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Would you like to explain why a fuel cell PHEV isn't possible?
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      "“Top Gear said the [Honda FCX] Clarity is the car of tomorrow because it's like the car of today. I haven't changed my driving habits at all.” This sums up the appeal of FCVs. Basically, the generation too set in their ways to want to try anything new. Problem is, that generation is going away. The new generation of drivers won't be so adverse to changing habits. Not to mention the developing world, where most new drivers are starting to get on the roads... they don't have any habits formed yet.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Top Gear's demographic is rapidly getting older. And they are already old. I would NOT bet the "future of automotive travel" on the predilections of a dying generation who is inherently afraid of change.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          NOT Top Gear's "viewership" demographics. Those are demographics for people who have logged onto IMDB.com and voted on that website for that show. Those numbers are already severely biased because younger people are MUCH more likely to go online to IMDB and vote in their system.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Fine, I will concede that Top Gear's audience is not "old". The cast sure is though.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I offer you the chance to provide your own documentation. Top Gear magazine (admittedly not the TV show) : 18-49 http://www.bauer-media.com.au/top_gear.htm Here's TV show data (from 2011, in Australia): "In Nine’s daily analysis of its performance, Nine today points out that Top Gear does reach key demographics. It said: “Top Gear was a Top Ten performer across the 5 City Metro, along the East Coast and in Melbourne with People 25-54, 18-49 and 16-39.” http://mumbrella.com.au/nines-top-gear-audience-falls-below-when-it-was-on-sbs-43118 More Australia data: Top Gear is #2 with 16-39. http://www.throng.com.au/2010/04/16-39-and-18-49-demographic-top-shows-tuesday-april-27-2010/ Please, feel free to jump in with data to support your claim that Top Gear's demographic is already old. (getting older is obvious, really - is anyone out there getting younger?)
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Looks like Top Gear's demographics are strongly male (no surprise) mostly 18-29. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1628033/ratings-female "Males 21184 8.8 Females 2851 7.9 Aged under 18 833 9.0 Males under 18 682 9.0 Females under 18 151 9.1 Aged 18-29 16955 8.9 Males Aged 18-29 15003 8.9 Females Aged 18-29 1952 8.1 Aged 30-44 5310 8.4 Males Aged 30-44 4735 8.5 Females Aged 30-44 575 7.7 Aged 45+ 806 7.6 Males Aged 45+ 682 7.8 Females Aged 45+ 124 Perhaps you have better data, or else you wouldn't have made your assertion?
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Fine, I will concede that Top Gear's audience is not "old". The cast sure is though.
        Jesse Gurr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Problem is that they take Top Gear seriously when the UK courts said that basically everybody else doesn't....
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesse Gurr
          And no, I don't think Top Gear (nor anyone) is lying when they say that driving habits don't need to change to accommodate an FCV.... but that is ONLY true under the assumption that buyers would be in a similar living and working location as these select lessees. The misleading part comes in when a potential buyer lives and/or works just a bit farther than these lessees. Suddenly, their habits DO HAVE TO CHANGE. Now they must drive out of their way every week... because the promise of H2 stations being available near them, did not pan out in time.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesse Gurr
          --"An FCV, for all intents and purposes, is a direct replacement in terms of usability for an ICE." And there in lies the misdirected limitations. The usability is SERIOUSLY affected by the availability of H2 stations. (These selected lessees aside)... the functional usability for the mass market of potential buyers is next to ZERO.
          Jesse Gurr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesse Gurr
          I can understand where they are coming from in saying that it is "like the car of today." The only thing that is similar to cars today is the way they refuel, hook up a hose to an inlet in the car. The problem is, and probably will be for a while, is that there are so few places to do that refueling. The article mentions that there are 6 places that sell hydrogen in LA and all 4 of them live or work reasonably close to them. That is the only way this will work is to have more stations, but the rollout is so slow who knows when that will happen. It isn't similar for the other 99% that don't have a station within a stones throw of their home or work
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesse Gurr
          It takes a certain amount of mental acuity to know when Top Gear is being sincere. James May's observations can be followed: "Most important car since the car was invented" Hyperbole. "It looks just like a car." Truth. "Remarkably like driving a Honda." Truth. "So far, most electric cars have been appalling little plastic snot-boxes..." Hyperbole. [Describing refueling] "That whole process has taken somewhere between two and three minutes, and has given me another two hundred and seventy miles of driving." Truth. It's not difficult to see the parts of the Top Gear bit that the gentleman is referring to when he acknowledges that he hasn't had to change his driving habits to accommodate the car. An FCV, for all intents and purposes, is a direct replacement in terms of usability for an ICE.
    • Load More Comments