Daimler: 2017 the right time to launch our hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle

Zero-emissions vehicle development has never focused purely on off-the-line acceleration. So when a research executive with Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler says it's Okay that companies like Toyota and Hyundai will have a head start selling hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, it's somewhat believable. But is Daimler really fine with being two years behind? It appears so.

Daimler plans on debuting its first fuel-cell vehicle in 2017, Automotive News says, citing an interview Automobilwoche had with Daimler's corporate research chief Herbert Kohler. The German automaker estimated about a decade ago that it would be able to get fuel-cell production costs down to an "acceptable" level in 2012, but it turns out that estimate was about five years too aggressive. Daimler originally started leasing out a limited number of its F-Cell hydrogen vehicles in the US for $849 a month, though later brought that down to $599 a month.

Daimler says it received a boost in its effort to accelerate fuel-cell powertrain development when it reached an agreement early last year with Nissan and Ford to work together on speeding up relevant powertrain technology. While Toyota's first fuel-cell vehicle in Japan is priced at almost $70,000 (before big government incentives kick in), Kohler says Daimler's first fuel-cell vehicle will be priced similar to a hybrid vehicle. Of course, that's a Mercedes-Benz hybrid we're talking about here, but still.

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