The new F 600 HYGENIUS is the latest in the series of research vehicles from Mercedes Benz that point the way forwards for the future. Powered by a zero-emission fuel cell drive with an output of 115 hp, the compact-class car with a family-friendly design consumes the equivalent of 97 mpg and has an operating range in excess of 250 miles. "This represents a major step towards bringing the fuel cell drive up to full production maturity, a goal that we aim to achieve some time between 2012 and 2015," remarks Dr Thomas Weber, DaimlerChrysler AG Board Member for Research & Technology and Head of Development at the Mercedes Car Group. "By developing the fuel cell, we are creating a new basis for supplying energy in tomorrow's vehicles which will make a further lasting improvement to their environmental compatibility." In addition to the fuel cell technology, the Mercedes Benz research vehicle also showcases an operating concept with virtual displays, new-style seats and other pioneering technologies designed to enhance safety and passenger comfort.

Fuel cells use the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electrical power in a process that produces no emissions. Professor Herbert Kohler, Director of Vehicle Body and Drive Research at DaimlerChrysler: "We have made some crucial advances to this trailblazing technology. The fuel cell in the F 600 HYGENIUS is around 40 per cent more compact than previously, runs more efficiently than ever and is notable for its good cold-start characteristics.

This has been achieved thanks to the inclusion of innovations such as the redesigned fuel stacks, an electric turbocharger and a new humidification and dehumidification system."

The F 600 HYGENIUS achieves a maximum power output of 115 hp combined with a peak torque of 350 Nm. The fuel cell drive alone generates a constant power output of 82 hp and a torque of 250 Nm. With any surplus energy being stored in a powerful lithium-ion battery, the system acts in a similar fashion to a hybrid drive, selecting the best power source to use depending on the driving situation. When parking or manoeuvring, for instance, the electric motor draws its power from the battery alone, while both fuel cell and battery feed it with energy in unison when the vehicle is accelerating. The electric motor doubles as a generator that charges the battery during vehicle braking by recuperating drive energy.

Mobile power station supplies energy both at home and away

As well as generating clean energy to drive the research vehicle, the fuel cell can also serve as a mobile power source: its 89 hp of electrical power would be quite sufficient to keep several detached houses supplied with power.

Passengers aboard the F 600 HYGENIUS also stand to benefit from its extraordinary energy reserves: the cup holders which use electrical power from the fuel cell to keep drinks chilled or hot are just one example of this. The fuel cell's energy also allows electrical devices to be operated anywhere at the standard voltage level - following onboard conversion - granting the occupants total independence from the mains network on family outings or business trips. All they have to do is connect the device to a power socket in the tailgate.

continues... | Part Two

Published : 13/10/05 Author : Melanie Carter

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