March 26, 2009 Mercedes Benz has released pictures of an intriguing (if not practical) design study where century old tradition meets transport technologies of the future. The historical roots of the F-CELL Roadster are immediately recognizable in its large spoked wheels that hark back to the the first car developed by Karl Benz in 1886. Pair this with a modern-day hybrid drive system with a 1.2 kW (1.6 hp) electric motor powered by small fuel cell and you have one very modern roadster in a classic quadricycle package.
Mercedes has not specified what type of fuel is used but as a typical fuel cell is only 50% energy efficient, it needs to be capable of 2.4 Kw (3.2 hp) to drive the electric motor at full power. The F-Cell quadricycle has a top speed of 25 km/h (15 mph) and a claimed range of 350 km (218 miles). The Steering wheel, brake and throttle pedal have all been replaced by a center console mounted joystick controlling the vehicle with drive-by-wire technology. The quadricycle doesn't look to have any out-board friction brakes so we can only presume all braking is via the electric motor.
The concept was build by 150 Daimler AG trainees which included junior employees from the fields of automotive mechatronics, model-building, electronics, coating technology, manufacturing mechanics, product design, and interior appointments. The prime objective of the project was to integrate the topic of alternative drive systems into training with hands-on experience.