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Daimler hopes to show that fuel cells are technically mature and suitable for everyday use

Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the automobile, Daimler-Benz is sending three fuel-cell powered Mercedes cars on a trip around the world.

The three B-Class F-CELL vehicles are expected to cross four continents and 14 countries on what is expected to be a 125 day, 30,000 km tour.

Daimler said it wants to show the technical maturity of fuel cell technology and its suitability for everyday car use. The company added in a statement that it also wants to “enforce the political call to establish a comprehensive filling station infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles.”

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said: “Some 125 years after the invention of the motor car, for us the B-Class F-CELL embodies its reinvention."

Until a few years ago, car companies were heavily promoting fuel cells as the next automotive technology to get widespread acceptance. In recent years, however, the focus has been more on hybrid-electric vehicles and full-electric cars powered by lithium-ion batteries.

In recent months, Mercedes and other carmakers have started to tout the potential of fuel cells again. They have the advantage of  long range coupled with short refueling time, Daimler said.

Mercedes has already delivered 200 B-Class F-CELL vehicles to customers in Europe and the US. With a range of 400 km, the cars have more autonomy than new electric cars equipped with lithium-ion batteries.

The absence of a refueling infrastructure is a major obstacle in the development of this propulsion. Insiders estimate that establishing such a network in North America would cost at least 10 billion dlrs, while a similar network across Western Europe would cost roughly half of that.

Daimler is working closely with German industrial gas company Linde to prepare for the growing hydrogen demands associated with more fuel-cell powered cars.