Fuel cell technology powers prototype Mercedes RV

Mercedes-Benz is not waiting for existing motorhome manufacturers to get into the race to develop electric-powered RVs. Instead, Mercedes has introduced a prototype motorhome based on a Hymer low-profile coach powered by the latest hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Mercedes built the motorhome on the Concept Sprinter F-CELL to show the possibilities of fuel cell technology, from long range to zero-local-emissions mobility. The concept motorhome combines hydrogen fuel cell and battery technology in a plug-in hybrid. The interaction of the battery and fuel cell delivers an electric output of approximately 147kW and 350Nm of torque.

The three tanks in the substructure store 4.5kg of hydrogen giving a range of around 300km (180 miles). If a longer range is required, another tank at the rear of the vehicle can be added, increasing the range to 530km (380 miles).

Hymer utilized their long history of developing new models in partnership with Mercedes to develop this prototype motorhome, part of a project involving Sprinter and Vito vans to see how they perform in different real-world scenarios using various powertrain options. Battery-electric drive, classic internal combustion engines, and hydrogen fuel cell models are all part of the evaluation program. Mercedes said it represents the next milestone in the electrification of all its models for commercial use.

We will first see the electric eSprinter join the eVito – which is already on the market – next year. It is not yet clear when the F-CELL Sprinter will come to market. The eSprinter will come with a battery capacity of 55kWh, giving an anticipated range of around 150km (90 miles) with a maximum payload of 900kg.

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6 Thoughts to “Fuel cell technology powers prototype Mercedes RV”

  1. Alex

    Lets be clear about this technology. Hydrogen is most economically derived from natural gas and electrolysis. “Fracking” is not without environmental controversy even though it’s the newest source for cheap gas. Electrolysis disassembles water into hydrogen and oxygen. Either process requires massive inputs of generated electricity to refine and compress hydrogen. Follow the hydrogen production chain and you must conclude that a fuel cell powered engine only appears pollution free to the consumer. The reality is that hydrocarbon combustion is the raw material required to produce hydrogen for fuel cells. The perception that any energy source can be non polluting is mental masxxxxxxxxx, in my opinion.

    1. John Ahrens

      I love to watch electric car owners’ heads explode when I remind them that there “zero emissions” cars are actually coal burners, since that is the source of most electricity.

      1. If the smart grid ever happens (and it will, eventually) you could have your car recharge at night or even act as part of a massive battery bank of millions of electric vehicles that could provide makeup power for the grid when the sun doesn’t shine. You could also put a few thousand watts of solar panels on the roof of your garage that would direct charge your electric vehicle when it was plugged in during the day, or feed power into the grid during the day, which you could “reclaim” for your own electric car that night. Don’t expect this next year, but certainly most of this could be in place within a decade. With the right sponsors I’ll be building this type of system for myself to gather empirical (real world) data on and report about it.

  2. ron spradley

    What we need is fuel cells to replace generators. No noise and the only by-product is drinking water.

    1. I have some insider information on that topic and will be covering it around the end of the year as soon as I get out from under an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). This could be a real game changer…

    2. John Ahrens

      I have no problem with fuel cells as a replacement for generators. In fact, I’d expect the hybrid/electric prime movers to be powered by fuel cells rather than batteries and/or gas engines when the fuel cell technology matures a bit more. Fuel cells, at least in this size, still typically use methane (natural gas) or propane as the fuel source, meaning that carbon dioxide is coming out the tailpipe with the water, similar to a fossil fuel engine.

      It’s probably still cleaner and quieter than the standard RV generator, so it would be friendlier in an RV park, and could power an electric RV at the same time, with reasonable distances..

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