Hydrogen fuel cell is long-term mobility solution, says Mercedes
So said Prof Dr Thomas Weber, responsible for research at Daimler and the development of Mercedes-Benz cars, to news agency Headlineauto at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
With Mercedes’ 69g/km, 94mpg version of the new S-Class on display at Frankfurt, Prof Weber outlined his view that plug-in hybrids will be used for large cars whilst full hybrid or dual-fuel power with petrol and natural gas will be used for medium-sized cars. Only small city runabouts will be pure electric.
‘Electrification will take place, but not without a combustion engine for 20 or 30 years,’ he said. ‘What will go down is [sales of] the pure combustion engine, though it as an open question as to how fast this will happen.
‘We definitely have enough oil and it will remain relatively cheap. The only thing which can change the game is discussions about climate change – storms and so on,’ he added.
Long-term, Weber is pinning his faith on the hydrogen fuel cell as the answer to long-range, clean mobility. Mercedes had planned to introduce a fuel-cell version of the B-Class next year, but has since postponed it following the signing of a collaboration deal on fuel-cell research with Ford and Nissan.
‘Our decision was based on the infrastructure situation. We have shifted it a few years to 2016 or 2017,’ said Weber. ‘Technology-wise we are nearly ready, but where are the fuel stations?
‘This gives us time to develop a common drivetrain, which makes a lot of sense because the volumes will be higher and the costs lower, and push on the infrastructure situation.
‘Toyota will step in and now Volkswagen has said it is no longer against the fuel cell. In the long run it is the best solution because range is no longer a topic.’