Daimler bids farewell to fuel cell technology

March 28, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
After a longer phase of zig-zag course, carmaker Daimler has decided not to continue the development of fuel cell vehicles – at least not with high priority. Thus, the company gives up its long-time leading position in this environmentally friendly technology. The right of way has now the development of battery-electric vehicles.

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. Initially, fuel cell-powered vehicle offered a much better driving range and shorter refueling times compared to batteries. State-of-the-art battery technology however made this advantage melt down, in particular if the price is taken into account. “Battery costs are declining rapidly whereas hydrogen production remains very costly,” Zetsche said.

Nevertheless, the company still plans to produce a limited series of its GLC SUV with fuel cell drive by the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018. This car however will address the market for fleet operators in the first place, Zetsche said, adding that the fuel cell will remain an “interesting solution”, but it only will be commercially viable if hydrogen can be produced at a large scale through renewable energy.

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