Daimler Says Goodbye To Fuel Cells, Will Focus On Plug-In Electric Vehicles

7 months ago by Mark Kane 62

The next generation Mercedes-Benz fuel cell electric vehicle: Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL prototype. Not only can the GLC F-CELL be refueled with hydrogen in under three minutes at an appropriate filling station: convenient external charging of its high-voltage battery is also possible.

According to a report from Stuttgart, Daimler has retreated from hydrogen fuel cells developments, instead choosing to focus strictly on all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars as the future core alternative technology.

Mercedes-Benz F015 – Luxury in Motion

The company still will continue some FCV projects in development, such as the plug-in GLC SUV (as shown above), which is scheduled for 2017/2018, but will do so only in a small scale, and with fleet operators.

“At an automotive congress in Stuttgart Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said the fuel cell is no longer playing a central role for the company. Though Daimler still is in possession of leading-edge fuel cell technology, the edge of this technology over the battery-electric approach is dwindling, Zetsche said.”

The reason of abandoning of the hydrogen is pretty simple. The advantage of longer range (than battery electric cars) and short refueling time is dwindling.

Over the past few years, BEVs have become more popular, and now come equipped with much longer ranges, and amuch faster recharge pace (150 kW in the pipeline), while at the same time battery costs are falling quickly; while on the fuel cell side of the coin there is no easy answer to provide cheap hydrogen fuel cells/tanks, the hydrogen itself, or the installation of a vast and expensive refueling infrastructure.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said:

“Battery costs are declining rapidly whereas hydrogen production remains very costly,”

Well, any manufacturer that resigns from hydrogen development today certainly makes the task even harder for others who choose to still remain in the game. Now there is one player less to share infrastructure costs. Hopefully, Toyota and Honda will also now be more convinced to switch all their focus to plug-ins.

source: Smart2Zero

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62 responses to "Daimler Says Goodbye To Fuel Cells, Will Focus On Plug-In Electric Vehicles"

  1. Willam says:

    Its the right decision considering Daimler can make a half way decent EV for the masses. I was rather impressed with the upcoming Daimler AG Smart EV convertible. Lots of new cool gadgets on EV convertible!

    1. theo1000 says:

      Actually I’m saddened by this.

      It is not wise to close options off in the long term. I hope at least 1 or two manufacturers keep working on the technology.

      There was a time when EV’s were written off too….

      1. DJ says:

        Ya, precisely. While it’s becoming more and more clear that BEVs make the most sense for small passenger cars we’re not there yet for larger vehicles, sure as heck not any mid-large long distance trucking requirements. I truly don’t know if FCs are the answer there or if it would be best to supplement a decent sized battery pack with one so they can travel 100s of miles without having to refuel but the last time everyone threw all their eggs in to one basket we ended up right where we’re at now which is trying to find something better!

        It always astonishes me how so many people just don’t get that one solution doesn’t necessarily work the best for every scenario…. aka the “fool-cell” crowd.

        1. Djoni says:

          Science isn’t stopping here.
          Hydrogen will continue to have benefit in many things, metallurgy, cryogenic, plastic, etc. Just not so for propelling a car.
          It has too many insurmountable drawbacks.
          If you don’t understand why we need practical, safe, and economic solution, nobody can help you.
          BTW, supercapacitor and superconductors might also push new breath into EV.

          1. DJ says:

            Kind of like if you can’t read someone’s post and comprehend it then no one can help you…

            Seriously, I wasn’t talking about a small passenger car!

            1. Djoni says:

              Seriously, I doubt you understand my comment.
              Hydrogen never made sense for such an easy task as moving a light car.
              For heavy load, it’s another story.
              Trucking, vessel, or plane, I don’t know, but maybe.
              For propelling a rocket it is valuable, but dangerous.
              And research is going on to find safer propellant for this also.
              Hydrogen is quite a challenge to deal with and everyone who works on it knows that.
              Not to say battery are totally safe, but it’s in order of magnitude safer than hydrogen.

              1. Martin Winlow says:

                I can’t help feeling that if using H2 is ‘dangerous’ for a rocket, its much more so for any road-going vehicle with, you know, *people* in them! Just one of the H2FCV’s very serious problems.

          2. theo1000 says:

            FC doesn’t necessarily mean Hydrogen. Right now the technique is easier for a simple gas but there is reason to hope it can be extended to liquids. IIRC a 60% efficiency run on liquid fuels would be quite an achievement eventually to more sustainable sources of liquid fuel of course. But some thing to keep working one.

            1. pjwood1 says:

              It’ll be interesting, but the hurdles to considering different fuels will continue to come down to energy density. Batteries are just passing a commercial threshold. CNG tanks are big. LNG has sanely been attempted in trucks, but like Hydrogen you’re dealing with YUGE pressures.

              I think in order for future FC discussion to really get off the ground, the smell test is “how do we make it” and “will the costs ever scale to be competitive”. Unless KWh are practically free, electrolysis and water won’t come to hydrogen production. Then, comes the discussion about pollution.

              1. theo1000 says:

                Yes. I don’t think that part of the fuel stream is figured out. Ethanol is a start and an option despite its issues and problems. In any case a clean fuel stream for EV’s is not yet figured out yet even if it is cleaner than H2.

                As has been mentioned there are many cogs to a modern industrial society. We should not abandon options so early in what is going to be a long drawn out 100+ year type process, with battles, confrontations and losses on both sides yet to come.

        2. Doggydogworld says:

          Dynamic charging would be best for long-haul trucking. And great for BEVs, also.

        3. Martin Winlow says:

          I don’t understand why people find it hard to accept the idea of a Tesla semi. Yes, you’d have to put more batteries in it… and…?

          1. Martin Winlow says:

            Oh, of course, 90% of the stuff the US (and most elsewhere too) trucks, should be on a train, and ideally an electric one! But we have Big Oil to thank for that one, too!

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “It is not wise to close options off in the long term.”

        I’ve seen the very same argument from supporters of “free energy” and “cold fusion” research; the claim that no matter how unlikely it is, people should continue to spend money on the research.

        Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. There’s no point in throwing good money after bad by supporting R&D into a tech which the Laws of Thermodynamics make it impossible for the tech to ever become practical. Trying to use compressed hydrogen as a fuel isn’t as impossible as perpetual motion, but the Laws of Thermodynamics block it from ever being practical or competitive every bit as certainly as they block any possibility of perpetual motion or “free energy” from actually working.

        If you’re not convinced, then consider this: Should auto makers not keep up research into steam engines, on the possibility that one day cars will again be powered by them? After all, the Stanley Steamer was once one of the best-selling automobiles!

        I doubt anyone can come up with an argument which justifies continued R&D on “fool cell” cars but not on steam engine cars.

      3. Martin Winlow says:

        EVs were only written off because they were a threat to Big Oil.

    2. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

      Rumors of the death of Daimler’s HFCV program have been greatly exaggerated.

      Apparently, this is fake news. There are reports that this news story is false, and Daimler will be issuing an official statement shortly to renounce the claims made in the source Smart2Zero article. The blogger at Smart2Zero, the sole source for this news story, misunderstood what CEO Dieter Zetsche said and got the story wrong.

      The following is translated from French on the Hydrogen2Day website:

      Mercedes that renounces hydrogen: fake news?

      “The information was taken over by several sites, including Fortune. According to Smart2Zero, which presents itself as a site of information on the revolution 2.0, Dieter Zetsche, the boss of Mercedes, reportedly told a conference in Stuttgart that Mercedes was abandoning the fuel cell, Focus on batteries with an investment of 10 billion euros to launch 10 electric models by 2022.”

      “This announcement was surprising, especially as the star firm is to present a hydrogen SUV in a few months at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The same Mercedes which played a pioneering role and operates the company AFCC which produces fuel cells.”

      “This is all the more surprising since he never actually said that. Mercedes informs, unofficially for the moment, that there is no change in the strategy. The Daimler Group will offer battery-powered electric vehicles AND hydrogen-powered vehicles. The author of the article, the editor-in-chief, Christoph Hammerschmidt, could misinterpret Mr. Zetsche’s remarks.”

      “Mercedes has a vested interest in making an adjustment.”

      “Remember that when Toyota announced that it was going to invest in batteries, some media have deduced that it is shutting down hydrogen. This is obviously not the case, when we know the efforts that the brand deploys in anticipation of the Tokyo Olympics of 2020.”

      “At the time of social networks and sites that propagate erroneous information, one must be careful. It is to this kind of detail that one measures the interest of privileging the sites animated by professional journalists, rather than alternative sites.”

      https://hydrogentoday.info/news/2606

      1. Get Real says:

        (Renewed) hope springs eternal for a shill quoting fossil fool industry publications!

        1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

          I’m not a shill numbnuts, I’m ZEV agnostic. You however, are nothing but a pom-pom-waving troll. 🙁

          For the record, I sent in a news tip to InsideEVs way back in January, which reported that Daimler was cooling on hydrogen tech (at the same time that Daimler announced it’s membership and investment in the $10.7 billion Hydrogen Council).

          That news story from Drive.com.au (Austrailia) accurately described Daimler’s shifting position on hydrogen fuel cells. The following are excerpts from that Drive.com news story.

          CEO Zetsche said: “In the last five, six, seven years battery electric vehicles have developed much faster, much further than we expected.” “The advantages of fuel cell vehicles as far as filling versus charging times are concerned have become much smaller. For that reason, I think it’s smart to focus on battery electric vehicles.”

          Dr Zetsche says that Mercedes will launch a number of fuel cell vehicles in 2018.

          “Mercedes’ latest concept cars have been geared toward battery, rather than fuel cell power. But Dr Zetsche says the brand will continue to invest in hydrogen as a back-up plan.

          “In case, for instance, the overall energy politics leads to the production of hydrogen being the storage solution for regeneratively generated power, obviously the complementary element will be fuel cell vehicles.” “How likely is that to happen? I don’t know. But if that’s not happening I’m not very optimistic about . . . the development of fuel cell vehicles.”

          “Hydrogen may find a saviour in heavy vehicle logistics, as battery technology isn’t quite up to hauling large trucks without seriously compromising load capacity. While Mercedes expects to produce an electric van or light truck before 2020, but Zetsche says long-haul electric trucks are not conceivable.”

          “Mercedes development engineer Christian Frueh says that the proliferation of electric vehicles may not be as widespread as some people expect.” “There is still enough rest of the world where you just cannot imagine how you’re going to use an electric car,” he says. “There is still enough rest of the world where you just cannot imagine how you’re going to use an electric car.

          http://www.drive.com.au/motor-news/mercedes-goes-cold-on-hydrogen-tech-20170111-gtpxkl.html

      2. Djoni says:

        This would be a good one.
        It’s not April first?

      3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        sven said, rather desperately:

        “Apparently, this is fake news.”

        No, but your fool cell fanboy posts certainly qualify!

        I’m bookmarking Sven’s post. It will be fun to point and laugh at every time he makes another fool cell fanboy post.

        1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

          Bookmark this: you’re a jerk wad.

      4. Martin Winlow says:

        Well, to me, all that *could* read:- ‘Insider lets slip cosmic news that Mercedes is abandoning FC program – but Mercedes’ top brass moves quickly to refute it (and lie by doing so) to save face in light of soon to be displayed FC vehicle that cost $m’s but is, and never was going to be, anything more than an exercise in (rather silly) PR.’

        Call me a cynic if you will, but time will, as ever, tell.

    3. SJC says:

      GM, Honda, Hyundai and others will do fuel cells, they could end up in delivery trucks. A PHEV FC always made sense.

  2. Interesting to see this playing out. Two years ago we discussed what role open sourcing would have on the competing battery and fuel-cell infrastructures in the EV market.

    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/06/09/open-innovation-electric-vehicle-market/id=58374/

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      It’s not the fuel cell that’s the problem, it’s using compressed hydrogen as the fuel that’s the problem. Some of the reasons for that are given in this article.

      If fuel cell vehicles were equipped with onboard reformers, they could use a much more practical fuel, such as CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) or renewable synthetic methane.

  3. Hauerg says:

    Good.

    1. Delta says:

      Wonderful

  4. Big Solar says:

    Next Honda then Toyota……

    1. David Murray says:

      I think Toyota has already seen the writing on the wall, and most like did over a year ago. However, since they didn’t have any plug-in products to sell until just recently, there was no real good reason to do an about-face on the topic.

      1. Kdawg says:

        Toyota was also trying to shove a lot of the costs onto the taxpayers.

  5. Victor says:

    I don’t think Toyota is going to switch. Toyota is determined to go down with the ship.

  6. Anon says:

    Awww. Poor Sven and his absurd dreams of a “Hydrogen Highway”. 😀

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Don’t forget zzzzzzzzz! 😀

  7. AlphaEdge says:

    Darn! I so wanted hydrogen to win! 😉

    1. AlphaEdge says:

      What’s the real reason? The solar system is awash in hydrogen. Jupiter has enough to supply all our needs!

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        The real reason? The real reason is that compressed hydrogen gas is very nearly the worst possible choice for an everyday fuel. It’s much too difficult to work with, and much too expensive by the time it’s gone through all the steps needed to get it into the fuel tank of a fool cell car.

        There are several practical fuels; H2 just ain’t one of ’em, and never will be.

        The many reasons for this, scientific and economic, have been explained many times; here are a couple of links if you need reminding.

        https://web.archive.org/web/20150419031629/http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/hydrogen-economy-fuel+cell/480

        https://phys.org/news/2006-12-hydrogen-economy-doesnt.html

        1. AlphaEdge says:

          I was joking!

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Okay. Please consider using a winkey-smiley ( 😉 ) or a sarcasm tag such as one of the following:

            /sarcasm
            /snark
            /s

            Sometimes it’s hard to tell when the writer of an Internet post is joking; that’s why emoticons were invented.

            1. AlphaEdge says:

              I mentioned Jupiter as a source for hydrogen. Not exactly practical, and I posted after a post that did include the sarcastic smiley.

      2. Bill Howland says:

        Jupiter? You’re going to have to share it with:

        “If Trump wins, I’m moving to Jupiter” Cher.

        Seriously though, its amazing the amount of effort big companies such as Diamler have put toward fuel cells, when admittedly distant observers such as myself have seen the ‘Fuel Cell Promise’ go nowhere decade after decade.

        Who in their right mind would ever have reasonably thought that a DUPLICATE fueling infrastructure would ever be made to compete with gasoline and fuel oil distribution, natural gas (methane) distribution, and electric distribution?

        Its not likely in the next several decades that huge amounts of largess are going to be available to spend on quaint “Hydrogen Highways” – the one exception of course being California (if they can’t afford to do it, they’ll just raise the taxes).

    2. randomhuman says:

      Why? Hydrogen is a nightmare at least for cars. Maybe it’s useful for heavy trucks, trains, ships or so in the future…

      1. Echo Victor says:

        My thoughts too. Planes particularly, since it makes a lot more sense, and the infrastructure worry won’t be so much a concern.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “I so wanted hydrogen to win!”

      And it would have too, if it hadn’t been for those darn meddling kids… er, laws of physics! 😀

  8. ffbj says:

    Say it ain’t so Joe.

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    That’s one. Hopefully other auto makers will follow shortly.

    1. Djoni says:

      Immediately if inappropriate taxes credit and loan for this non sense is stop.

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    I find it particularly enjoyable reading this article on this site, given how many of us have been screaming for years about how HFCVs made zero sense.

    Other car companies will follow MB’s path and shift to BEV/PHEV products. Not all at once, and there will surely be a lot of posturing involved, but it will happen.

    I’ve been convinced for some time that aside from the well documented tax incentives, a big reason car companies had their fling with hydrogen was very simple: They were hedging their bets. They saw that fossil fuels don’t have long, but battery prices hadn’t yet dropped enough for their comfort, even though they were and still are dropping. I think what we’re seeing is a comfort level among car companies that batteries will have the right prices, supply reliability, etc. for them to literally bet the company.

    1. skierpage says:

      HFCVs were the response to the fear that many regions would demand zero tailpipe emissions, as California has. If it was going to happen, the car companies and oil companies could switch to H2 and continue business. Once the focus shifted to CO2 emissions and renewable energy, H2 was less compelling than batteries.

    2. pjwood1 says:

      I agree, but then there’s the GM / Honda, whack-a-mole ~80mm H2 start up in the US. GM’s Reuss sounded like Dieter sounds here, a couple years ago.

  11. ffbj says:

    I think this a pretty good recap.
    Here’s Nikki:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BvD_nNVW1g

    1. Djoni says:

      Nice piece!
      Thank for the link.

  12. Well, duh!

    Hydrogen is a non-starter – too expensive, too difficult, and much less efficient than EV’s.

  13. CDAVIS says:

    “Daimler To Says Goodbye To Fuel Cells”

    About Time!

    I’m guessing at Toyota the high-ups are starting to look around for which guy is to be designated to perform seppuku over Toyota’s mega fuel cell fail.

  14. a-kindred-soul says:

    Very wise, Daimler!

  15. midimal says:

    RIP Fool-Cell

  16. ClarksonCote says:

    In title, “says” should be “say” or “to” should be deleted.

  17. Matt Falcon says:

    Apparently this is fake/incorrect news (i.e. a quote that was never said). None the less, I still think fuel cells will serve a need in the large-scale engine electrification – that is, anything that uses diesel today could be electric with a fuel cell. All the personal cars on the road could be electric by the end of the decade, but a gap still remains in these large-scale applications.

    I really hope someone catches on and starts building 44kW fuel-cell generators to replace noisy, stinky diesel portable generators. Just sayin’.

    1. Martin Winlow says:

      *NO* they *won’t*!

      *Anyone* with *half a brain* that spent *10 minutes* looking at the numbers will realise that the idea of using H2 as a ‘fuel’ to power road vehicles *simply does not add up*. And there are several reasons why this is the case but by far the most compelling is that current tech uses so much electrical energy to obtain H2 pure enough to use in an FCV that it makes it *hopelessly* inefficient compared to just using the energy in an EV instead. It is *that simple*! Why do you and everyone else that supports this idiocy continue to ignore this *blindingly obvious* barrier to FCVs working?

      The only hope (and this assumes we deal with all the other issues not the least of which is the price of the FC itself) is if we can find a way of *efficiently* making H2 by means other than which we do currently eg from a form of photosynthesis using microbial activity.

  18. Martin Winlow says:

    Better late than never, I suppose. But think of all that wasted money that could have gone into battery research and had us all driving around in today’s EVs 20 years ago.

  19. bogdan says:

    It took them years to realize what Musk realized from the begining. FC is not a viable solution.
    Comparing the Mercedes guys to a guy like ELon Musk, means the Mercedes guys must be full retards!

    1. bogdan says:

      Or maybe I’m the retard and they are the scam:

      “We’re investing and researching FC (meanwhile selling V8 ICEs). Oh, wait FC are not viable. Well will drop FC and invest and research from now on in BEV (meanwhile selling V12 ICEs)”

      That gives them more time to make huge profits on those ICEs.