Mercedes prepares hydrogen plug-in hybrid for Frankfurt debut
Mercedes-Benz is putting the finishing touches on a hybrid fuel cell version of the GLC ahead of its debut in Frankfurt. We don't know many details about the car yet, but Mercedes has pulled back the curtain on the development process leading up to its launch.
The F-Cell will take a unique approach to hydrogen power. Along with the hydrogen fuel cell, the car will have a battery capable of holding enough charge for shorter-range driving, just like the petrol plug-in hybrid powertrains currently popular across the luxury landscape. Mercedes hasn't released details about hydrogen-powered or pure-battery range yet.
Getting the car ready for production is a long, arduous process. In news that will surprise nobody, modern cars start life as a model on a computer screen. Before the first prototype is built, the car has been virtually crash tested, modeled for aerodynamics and chassis-tested. It goes without saying, a computer car crash is much cheaper than a real-world one.
Once they've made the jump into the real world, individual components are put through a series of tests on specially-designed rigs. The company says these rigs, many of which are housed in Nabern, east of Stuttgart, Germany, help speed up the development process.
Crash testing is a crucial part of any car's development, and the GLC F-Cell is no different. To make sure they stand up in an accident, its pressurized hydrogen tanks are stored in a special subframe between the axles, and the car is outfitted with special circuits for the requisite high-voltage system. Mercedes says this delivers a "level of safety comparable to that of conventional vehicles."
Having made the first prototypes ready for road use, Mercedes sets about testing its cars in a wide range of weather conditions. Along with tests in Spain, Sweden and Germany, the team uses the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in Sidelfingen to simulate temperatures between -40 and +60° C ( -40 and 140° F). Testing also included tropical downpours, snow and hurricane-force winds.
We'll see the end result of all this testing at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Stay tuned for all the latest from the show, where New Atlas will be on the ground covering all the action.