Fuel Cell Cars

Mercedes GLC F-Cell takes a unique approach to hydrogen

It blends a traditional hydrogen EV with plug-in hybrid tech.

Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell will finally receive a public debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show next week.

The GLC F-Cell, which was shown off for the first time in 2016, operates primarily as a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Its EV powertrain receives juice from the conversion of compressed hydrogen gas into electricity. What separates it, though, is the addition of plug-in hybrid tech. So if an owner isn't near a hydrogen station, they can get power from a standard EV charger, too.

It probably won't look much different than the standard GLC, except for the EV charging port.

Mercedes-Benz

Given that hydrogen is rather explosive, Mercedes-Benz wants to assure the public that the GLC F-Cell is as safe as humanly possible. The hydrogen tanks are nestled between the axles, within the secure bubble of the unibody crash structure. Mercedes claims the GLC F-Cell's safety levels are comparable with a standard gas car -- which, in case you forgot, is also loaded with fuel that likes to express itself exothermically.

Mercedes' GLC F-Cell prototypes have been tested in a wide variety of environments, just like its gas cars. They've undergone testing in Spain, Sweden and Germany, as well as in a test center just outside Stuttgart. That testing center can mimic a variety of weather conditions, including 150+ mph winds and temperatures between -40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it was first shown off in 2016, the GLC F-Cell packed a 9-kWh battery good for about 31 miles. However, with a full tank of hydrogen gas, its total range extended to a gas-comparable 310 miles. It's unclear if the specs will be the same in Frankfurt, but it's only a week until we find out for sure.