Your hydrogen future, coming soon

If you thought fuel cells were restricted to funny, little impractical cars, think again. Mercedes' production SUV is coming soon.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
2 min read

The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell is coming to production in just a few years, and it could bring the shot in the arm that the hydrogen economy needs. When the SUV hits the market in late 2019, it will likely be the most practical fuel-cell-powered car on the market -- thanks not only to its cargo capacity, but also to its day-to-day livability.

Most hydrogen-powered cars won't allow you to stray far from a hydrogen filling station. And right now there just aren't too many of the things, so careful route planning is essential. The GLC F-Cell helps a bit by being at least partially independent of those stations. It can drive up to 49 kilometers (just over 30 miles) on electricity alone thanks to the integrated 9kWh battery pack. Sure, that pales in comparison to the range of a proper EV, but it gives this crossover that much more flexibility than the other fuel-cells on the market presently -- namely, Toyota's Mirai and Honda's Clarity.

2018 GLC F-Cell: What the future of hydrogen looks like

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Total range is quite sizable, too. The car can go up to 437 km on a charge (about 272 miles) with a full tank of hydrogen. And with about 200 horsepower on tap, you should be able to get there at a healthy rate of speed. Whether you're draining that internal battery or the high-pressure hydrogen tanks, the car will be completely emissions-free -- with the exception of some water vapor. And speaking of those tanks, they're situated between the axles, within the crash structure of the car, to ensure the maximum possible safety.

It's too early to know about pricing, but expect to pay a heavy premium over the $40,000 starting price of a traditionally powered GLC. Progress, she doesn't come cheap.