Automotive

Mercedes flags 500 km EV platform, wireless charging and a hydrogen hybrid

Mercedes flags 500 km EV platf...
Mercedes will use this platform to underpin its future electric cars
Mercedes will use this platform to underpin its future electric cars
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The GLC F-Cell has 4 kg of hydrogen stored in the floor
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The GLC F-Cell has 4 kg of hydrogen stored in the floor
There's a 9 kWh battery working with the hydrogen fuel cell
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There's a 9 kWh battery working with the hydrogen fuel cell
The bits and pieces giving the F-Cell power 
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The bits and pieces giving the F-Cell power 
The F-Cell has a range of around 500 km
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The F-Cell has a range of around 500 km
Mercedes will use this platform to underpin its future electric cars
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Mercedes will use this platform to underpin its future electric cars
Mercedes says its EV platform will offer up about 500 km of range 
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Mercedes says its EV platform will offer up about 500 km of range 
The F-Cell is built under the body of regular GLC
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The F-Cell is built under the body of regular GLC
The F-Cell can be fuelled up at any hydrogen station
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The F-Cell can be fuelled up at any hydrogen station
The F-Cell can cover 50 km on one charge
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The F-Cell can cover 50 km on one charge
The 9 kWh battery in the GLC should be enough to cover most people's daily commute
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The 9 kWh battery in the GLC should be enough to cover most people's daily commute
Mercedes' induction charging system 
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Mercedes' induction charging system 
The wireless charging system will launch on the S500e next year
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The wireless charging system will launch on the S500e next year
The F-Cell plug-in hybrid being, well, plugged in 
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The F-Cell plug-in hybrid being, well, plugged in 
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As alternative powertrains move towards the mainstream, there is increasing pressure to create versatile platforms capable of handling a range of propulsion systems without huge development costs on each individual model. Volvo has SPA, Volkswagen has MQB and now Mercedes has used TecDay in Stuttgart to announce a dedicated platform for pure electric cars, alongside plans for wireless EV charging and a hydrogen plug-in hybrid SUV.

The biggest hurdles to broader adoption of electric vehicles can be put into two columns: cost and range. On the cost front, the adoption of a dedicated electric vehicle platform allows parts to be shared, which makes it cheaper for Mercedes to develop and produce cars.

That logic is nothing new, and everyone from BMW to Subaru is creating modular underpinnings able to be used and adapted across a whole range of different sized cars. Where the Mercedes EV platform aims to set itself apart is with range, and lots of it.

Mercedes says its EV platform will offer up about 500 km of range 
Mercedes says its EV platform will offer up about 500 km of range 

Thanks to lithium-ion batteries from a Daimler subsidiary called Accumotive, the German giant claims its future electric cars will be able to cover more than 500 km (311 mi) on a single charge, putting their range up there with the best Tesla can manage at the moment.

Even with this range boost, the company accepts the fact battery power won't be able to cover everybody's full range of driving needs. They will, however, be useful for 90 percent of around-town driving and even the occasional longer jaunt, provided you know there's charging at the other end of your trip.

"You can blame a sports car for not offering room for nine, an RV for not fitting in an underground car park and a smart electric drive for not being suitable for driving from Hamburg to Rome," said Dr. Thomas Weber, who is responsible for Research and Development within Daimler. "But that is misleading. An electric vehicle is certainly not the right answer yet for people who regularly drive long distances between cities or on the motorway."

The F-Cell plug-in hybrid being, well, plugged in 
The F-Cell plug-in hybrid being, well, plugged in 

"But who actually does that?" he continued. "In reality, the usage profile of many cars is actually quite different. If you're a motorist, ask yourself how many days a year you drive more than 50 or 100 kilometers at a stretch."

Weber is also positive about the pace at which electric technology will progress over the next decade. As well expecting the energy density of batteries to double over the next 10 years, he says costs will be cut in half as post-lithium-ion battery technologies like lithium-sulphur become widespread.

In the meantime, Mercedes will focus on rolling out hybrid technology across its whole range. Those hybrids won't just combine gas power with batteries, but also fuel cells in the new GLC F-Cell Hybrid SUV.

Drawing on experience gained with hydrogen buses, Mercedes is promising a pure electric range of about 50 km (31 mi) from the 9 kWh plug-in battery. Drawing on 4 kg (9 lb) of hydrogen stored in floor-mounted carbon fiber tanks, the total combined range is expected to be around 500 km.

The wireless charging system will launch on the S500e next year
The wireless charging system will launch on the S500e next year

Charging up your hybrid battery is set to become less of a hassle, too, come the launch of next year's update for the S500e. Mercedes has been refining the system has been in testing since 2015, and transmits energy from a floor-mounted primary coil to a secondary coil in the car's floor. The driver is alerted when the system is within range, at which point charging starts.

Source: Daimler

7 comments
Gary Duff
It blows my mind every time I see an article on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles because history will prove that they are nothing more than an interesting R&D project. No matter how wonderful hydrogen is believed to be as a fuel for vehicles, no one can escape from the fact that it is at least half as efficient as using electricity direct from a battery. This fact alone should mean game over for hydrogen, never mind all the other disadvantages of using this element. It is so obviously not the right way to go. I would love to hear from anyone who has a compelling argument otherwise. Dr. Thomas Weber, quoted in the above article: "An electric vehicle is certainly not the right answer yet for people who regularly drive long distances between cities or on the motorway." Wrong. Has this guy been living in a cave for the last 10 years. Daimler needs to have a serious rethink on who heads up their research and development arm!!
swaan
Interesting. I bet this will be more expensive than the standard Tesla Model X 90 but you would have a slightly longer range and faster refill times. Then again I bet Tesla will come out with a 100kWh version soon. I am a little bit skeptical that you will be able to refill 4kg H2 to 700 bar in 5 minutes. I think the whole process will more likely be around 10 minutes. The second problem is that not every H2 station will provide 700bar, meaning more frequent fillups. A niche car for sure.
VincentWolf
To be practical they need to get the plug in range up to the Volt range of 52 miles. 20 to 25 miles just doesn't cut it for most of us.
RamonZarat
At this point, Tesla already proven that 100% pure electric is the way to go. Hybrids are just twice the complexity, twice the problems, twice the compromises, Jack of all trades master of none, with little to no benefit. The long term maintenance cost argument alone destroys hybrids VS pure eclectic. What needs to be done is to improve electric storage density with new battery technology, drastically expand renewable sources like wind, solar, hydro, wave power, geothermal and build an efficient electric delivery infrastructure. Any other consideration is keeping us from reaching those goals.
habakak
Herr Weber is correct on a few things (doubling of battery energy density and halving of price in the next decade and not blaming the vehicle for not fitting the profile), but on hydrogen he is wrong. Gary Duff has it right. Hydrogen simple is too inefficient due to all the conversions involved (even though it eventually powers an electric motor or even when the hydrolysis to produce the hydrogen is powered by solar energy). Simply a convoluted and inefficient way. BEV is the more efficient way and the future. ICE's have become so good, it's almost a shame. But compared to an electric car, there simply is no competition. It will be game over for the ICE in the next decade. The .1% will keep them around for nostalgic drives on back country roads of the future.
Blacksunrain
Okay "50 or 100km in a stretch " , Really!!! . I do 72km twice a day, 5 days a week in an I-MiEV (That is 144KM a DAY!!!) in Ontario Canada(along with thousands of others that do it in Fossil fuel cars). So come on car makers stop holding on to the gas line and cut the cord. If power tool companies can do, it so can you . This is why people think electric cars can not do it, because OH ! Mercedes says so, so it must be true !!. NO if any car company sells fossil fuel cars then they have a large bell curve of learning. Just ask Tesla. By the way the I-MiEV is a 16Kw battery, the smallest on the current car market. Reality Bites!!
T N Args
I'm concerned that companies will get into the habit of lying about EV range like they always used to lie about fuel consumption before standard tests were devised -- and even after fuel consumption tests, they don't reflect what you and I get from our cars. It's even worse with EV range, which can be 10x greater on flat track at constant speed compared to if you go for a drive through the hills at a variety of speeds and stoppages. P.S. agree with Gary Duff that battery EV has to beat fuel cell in the end, once battery tech and pricing hits the mark.