Mercedes-Benz shows fuel cells, split screens, and an iPhone app

Mercedes-Benz brings its new F-Cell fuel cell car to the Los Angeles Auto Show, and shows off split-view LCD technology and a new telematics service.

Mercedes-Benz F-Cell
Mercedes-Benz new fuel cell research vehicle is built on its B-class platform. Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Mbrace iPhone app
Mercedes-Benz owners can use this iPhone app to unlock their doors. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

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.

Tags:
Car Tech
About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
Tech industry's high-flying 2014
Uber's tumultuous ups and downs in 2014 (pictures)
The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
A roomy range from LG (pictures)
This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)