Mercedes has decided to delay production of its B Class Hydrogen Fuel Cell car until 2017 as it seeks partners for economy of scale.
We learnt last year that the new Mercedes B Class would spawn a version powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, and that Mercedes were planning to launch it in 2014. But that’s now been pushed back to 2017.
Unlike Hyundai – which is pushing ahead with production of the ix35 Fuel Cell this year – Mercedes has decided that although the hydrogen-powered B Class is ready for production the cost of producing it is too high to make it viable.
So they’ve pushed back production to 2017 and are talking with other car makers – in particular Renault-Nissan and Ford – to find a way to launch hydrogen fuel cell cars on a larger scale and benefit from economies of scale as a result.
It seems likely that the Renault-Nissan angle is a given, with plans already in place to build a new compact Infiniti based on Mercedes underpinnings in the UK, and a fuel cell version of that car would would be an obvious route. Although how much a new Infiniti fuel cell would help volume is debatable.
The delay in production of the Mercedes B Class Fuel Cell is disappointing, but it is understandable that car makers want to mitigate costs with economies of scale if possible, and to see a hydrogen refuelling network more established before volume sale begin.
And if the roll out of a viable hydrogen network speeds up, and other car makers like Hyundai and Toyota start making sales of hydrogen-powered cars in any sort of meaningful volumes, Mercedes could yet change its mind about delaying their hydrogen roll-out until 2017.
Source: Automotive News