Last week at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz announced their plans to start series production of fuel cell vehicles in 2010. Aside from the fact that the car would be based on the B-Class, not many other details were given. Thanks to Mercedes spokesman Matthias Brock we now have some additional information. The production volumes in the first years will remain quite low at several hundred per year. Because of those low volumes, costs remain high and according to Brock they aren't representative, so the company won't give details right now.
Similar to what Honda has indicated for the new FCX next year, Mercedes is only planning to lease the vehicles initially rather than sell. The fuel cell B-class will made available in both Europe and the United States but we won't know lease prices until closer to release time. The press release indicated that the production models will use a new generation of fuel cell that is more efficient and has greater power density. Brock also confirmed that like all the previous fuel cell vehicles built and tested by Mercedes, the new model will continue to use stacks built by Ballard Power Systems. We're still three years away and Honda should be releasing the production version of the FCX concept that we drove last fall sometime in 2008. General Motors will also have their Project Driveway program under their belt by then and should also be approaching production of their fifth-generation stack. It will be interesting to see how far Mercedes can advance the technology in the intervening period.