Monday, June 1, 2009

Mercedes A-Class F-Cell Hydrogen Vehicle

Mercedes A-Class hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle

My friend Craig, aka "Luter," visited the Hydrogen Road Tour at it's Portland stop. He checked out all the vehicles, including the Mercedes A-Class subcompact. Here's what he had to say:

First Impression
First off, my idea of the subcompact not fitting me is still up in the air. I'll say I could fit, but driving in it for fun or long distances might lead to some car fatigue. Little trips though, my 6'3" frame with a 6'4" body behind me could fit without too much trouble. Felt a bit upright, but I'm sure I could lay the seat back, drive one handed, you know, normal. But bonus—I could see stoplights without having to duck down, plenty of viewing angle in between the A-Pillers.

Also, there was a trunk to at least be able to fit a nice ready-to-make firepit (I was just imagining the space) and maybe a pup who just likes standing and looking out the window, or well, plenty of groceries for the week.

Funny enough, the first question I asked stumped the German tour guide: "How heavy is this car?" It being a Mercedes-Benz built by the Daimler Auto Group, I expected some weight to it and was not surprised by the feel and sturdiness of the car. Hey, I could probably power through a brick wall at 40 mph (sorry 64 km/h, it is German) but still probably wouldn't want to meet an E-class obliquely (we've seen the crash-test videos).

The steering was basic, you turn, it turns, normal power steering powered by the battery pack. Not much get up and go; I know its a flat torque curve because basically it's a hybrid powered by another fuel source, but still there was a bit of lag from first press to actually going. Slight whine from the compressor but that's to be expected.

The suspension felt fine, little rough over bumps. During the trip we learned that this car was actually 4-5 years old, basic first beta car, still kicking. Good resale value I'm guessing ...

These cars are controlled all by computer, so I'm sure there's plenty of opportunity for hacking (er...tuning) to the ECU for different types of driving. Overall the engine is much quieter, even after years of abuse. The loudest one was no worse than a Volkswagen TDI.

The tour is going up the west coast so there's still some time to catch it at Hydrogen Road Tour 2009. If the US decided to put the Hydrogen Network into place, there is plenty of opportunity to fill your tanks at a much quicker rate than electric with clean water as an output, so in other words, totally satisfied with just the general purpose of it getting 420 miles between fill-ups


Hydrogen Road Tour

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