March 12, 2003

DaimlerChrysler begins fuel-cell car tests in Japan

Tokyo, Japan – The first Japanese testing facility for fuel cell vehicles was opened at a ceremony on Tuesday. DaimlerChrysler is co-initiator of this project, in which five automotive manufacturers and further companies from the energy supply sector have joined forces to test fuel cell vehicles along with the necessary fuel infrastructure under everyday operating conditions.

The “Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project” (JHFC), which is subsidized by the Japanese government, sets out to bring this project towards market maturity by fostering close cooperation between industry and science and the authorities. DaimlerChrysler will be involved in this test program with its Mercedes-Benz “F-Cell” A-Class, which was first presented in October 2002. The necessary road operation approval for this car has already been granted by the Japanese Ministry for Land Infrastructure and Transport.

The JHFC facilities provide excellent conditions for the tests, since they include both workshops and an information centre. Five hydrogen filling stations have already been established in the greater Tokyo area.

Dr. Andreas Truckenbrodt, responsible for alternative powertrains at DaimlerChrysler, comments: “The Japanese demonstration project represents a significant milestone along the road towards market maturity for fuel cell vehicles and towards the use of hydrogen as an energy medium for the future. We welcome this initiative of the Japanese government, since we are convinced that this future-oriented technology can only be effectively promoted through close cooperation between the automotive manufacturers and the energy supply sector.”

On October 7, 2002 DaimlerChrysler presented the world’s first series produced fuel cell car: the Mercedes-Benz “F-Cell” A-Class. This fleet of sixty vehicles will be driven and tested by customers in everyday conditions from 2003. Nevertheless, before the “F-Cell” can find universal application, a considerable amount of development work still has to be carried out. To pave the way for the market introduction of the fuel cell within the foreseeable future, the matter of fuel supply and infrastructure in particular must first be clarified within the scope of a worldwide initiative together with the field of politics, the petroleum industry and the energy economy. The development engineers are still faced with countless challenges, relating especially to further weight and cost reductions and to increased reliability and extended service life. In order to effect a breakthrough in this key technology, cooperation between the manufacturers is indispensable.

The Mercedes-Benz “F-Cell” A-Class has an operating range of approximately 150 kilometres (93 miles) and runs on compressed hydrogen (350 bar). Its electric motor develops a power output of 65 kW and a torque of 210 Nm. It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in approximately 16 seconds, and it has a top speed of around 140 km/h (87 mph). It is completely emission-free and is extremely quiet in operation.

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