F-CELL World Drive finishes in Stuttgart
By Ben Coxworth
June 3, 2011
After spending 70 days driving through 14 countries on four continents, three Mercedes-Benz hydrogen cell vehicles have successfully completed their 30,000-kilometer (18,641-mile) F-CELL World Drive. The trio of B-Class F-CELL automobiles left Stuttgart on January 30th, along with an entourage of support vehicles. After traversing a variety of highways, city streets and even some unpaved country roads, they crossed the finish line in front of Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Museum this Wednesday (June 1st).
The drive was intended to illustrate the reliability and practicality of fuel cell vehicles, although the automaker does admit that a much larger refueling network is needed - there are presently about 200 hydrogen cell refueling stations worldwide, and it has been estimated that approximately 1,000 would be required in Germany alone in order to meet the needs of drivers in that country.
The F-CELL vehicles refueled at permanently-located stations only twice, but topped up about 130 times from a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van that was accompanying them on their journey. It had been modified to serve as a mobile refueling station.
One of the cars was involved in an accident in Kazakhstan, receiving damage to its bumper and rear axle, but was able to continue after repairs. The vehicles also set a record in that country, for distance traveled on a fuel cell without refueling. They covered 648 kilometers (403 miles) in two days, between Almaty and Balkhas.