Imperial Logistics is trialling a hydrogen fuel cell car for the next four years, to evaluate whether it should roll out the technology to its fleet customers and its own group management vehicle fleet in Europe. Together, these fleets currently total over 5000 vehicles.
The car which will undergo testing is the pre-production version of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL. This is visually similar to the maker’s popular, conventionally-powered SUV, but features a unique combination of hydrogen fuel cell and large lithium-ion battery, which Mercedes-Benz calls “EQ technology”. This provides dual power sources for the vehicle‘s electric drive motor, so overcoming one of the major obstacles to greater electric vehicle take-up to date: limited range.
With 4.4 kilograms of hydrogen on board, the fuel cell produces enough power to drive the vehicle up to 478 kilometres in hybrid mode; while the plug-in-rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides a further back-up range of up to 51 kilometres.
The long range, short refuelling time and maximum power output of 155kW make the GLC F-CELL suitable as an everyday vehicle for local and long-distance journeys, while producing zero local emissions at all times.
Says Head of Fleet Management at Imperial Logistics International, Michael Hohn: “We began talking to Daimler some time ago, expressing our interest in alternative technologies. We told them they were welcome to contact us if there were any programs in which we could participate. They subsequently invited us to test the GLC F-CELL for the next 4 years.
“With fast refuelling, and without the long charging process usually associated with electric vehicles, this could be a promising technology for the future. Compared to pure electric vehicles, hydrogen cell vehicles have a much greater range. And all that comes out of the exhaust is water vapour.
“Now, all we need is the infrastructure. If this combination of hydrogen-fuel-cell and plug-in electric technology is found to be viable, I would like to use these vehicles for Imperial Logistics’ own fleet as well as those of our fleet management customers.”
The honour of driving the hydrogen-fuel-cell car falls to Thomas Schulz, Chief Financial Officer at Imperial Logistics International, who says: “As a major logistics services provider, Imperial Logistics feels a duty to care for the environment, and this is also very important to me personally.
“I am proud to be the first one to test this new technology, and it will be very interesting to sample this new driving experience at first hand. I hope our trials will prove successful, and will enable us to deploy vehicles like this on a much larger scale in the future. ”