At the DaimlerChrysler booth at this years SAE World Congress, one of the vehicles on display is a cutaway of the latest generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell. I spoke to DCX representative Scott Freeman for a few minutes to get a rundown of the latest generation of DCX fuel cell vehicle. The B-Class is a tall wagon-type vehicle sold in Europe. The latest fuel cell B-class has the entire fuel cell system located under the floor and doesn't detract from normal interior volume.
The Ballard Power Systems fuel cell stack sits under the front seats and although details were not being disclosed it is likely the same type used in the HySeries Drive Ford Edge. Further back, under the rear seats are a pair of compressed hydrogen storage tanks. The tanks store gaseous hydrogen at 10,000 psi which seems to be the level that many car-makers are converging on as a pressure that allows them to store a reasonable amount of hydrogen in the minimum space. While Scott said that the B-Class has a range of 250 miles, he declined to state how much H2 was being stored on board.
Under the cargo area is a lithium ion battery pack, that works to provide transient power to supplement the fuel cell stack under acceleration and heavy load conditions. The B-Class basically works as a parallel hybrid and has no plug-in capability at this time. Currently there are about thirty of these vehicles in use in Europe and North America including one that is being used by campus police at Wayne State University in Detroit.