Instead of big, new vehicle launches at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz focused heavily on technology. The company brought out its next generation fuel cell vehicle, a car that lets passenger and driver view different content on the same screen, and an iPhone app that works with the company's new telematics service, Mbrace.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz F-Cell is a fuel cell research vehicle, continuing the company's look into using hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity to drive a car. The new model is based on the Mercedes-Benz B-class, a small vehicle with practical interior space. The fuel cells, lithium ion battery, and hydrogen tanks sit below the floorboards.
The hydrogen tanks store 3.7 kilograms of hydrogen compressed at 10,000 psi, while the lithium ion battery produces 35 kilowatts. This vehicle's range is 248 miles, getting the equivalent of 86.6 mpg. The electric motor drives the wheels with 136 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque, getting the F-Cell to 60 mph in 11.3 seconds.
For its production cars, Mercedes-Benz introduced its new Mbrace service, powered by Hughes Telematics. Similar to competing services such as Onstar, Mbrace provides crash notification to the nearest authorities, concierge services for navigation, and emergency roadside assistance. Mbrace also offers traffic and weather features, but most of these are concierge-based, so you will have to talk to a real operator.
Mbrace includes a smart phone app, current available for the Blackberry and iPhone, that lets you lock and unlock your car from almost anywhere in the world. The app uses a graphic of a Mercedes-Benz key, with button areas matching the lock and unlock functions of the physical key. The app also has a car location feature, which can guide you to your car if you forgot where you parked it.
And finally, Mercedes-Benz will offer an optional split-view technology for the LCDs in its S- and CL-class cars. This technology lets the passenger watch a movie, while the driver uses the car's navigation. Check out Brian Cooley's video, in which he shows how it works.