Only to the visually-impaired it may look like fuel cells and electric cars don’t enjoy success nowadays. Daimler AG has just started a pilot program of leasing Mercedes-Benz hydrogen fuel cell cars to 5 to 15 users in the US, to see how their car acts in real life conditions and how people receive them. To me this looks like a postpone of the real thing, just like GM did to EV1.
The users would pay $600 to $800 a month to use the Mercedes-Benz B-Class fuel cell vehicles in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. They limited the service to these two cities because of the number of hydrogen recharging stations available – six. Germany, for instance, plans to open 1,000 hydrogen charging stations throughout the entire country in six years – just think of that.
Each of the cars has a driving range of 240 miles (384 km), so with a fill and a bit you’d theoretically be able to cross Germany from France to Austria. And having 1,000 stations for that matter is more than enough, given the predicted fuel cells hitting the roads by then.
“We are in the process of reinventing the automobile. Customers right now still don’t know exactly where this is all going. Our job will be to actually work with them and make it easy for them to understand,” says Sascha Simon, director of advanced product planning for the automakers sales U.S. unit.
Other companies opening leasing possibilities for a limited number of customers are Nissan (for Leaf) and GM. The leasing plan Mercedes put up is spreading 200 B-Class fuel cell vehicles in both the US and Europe.