Let’s be honest: those of us who were alive at the end of the last century expected there to be electric vehicles in every garage by now, or at the very least some kind of replacement for the internal combustion engine of the late-19th and 20th centuries. Alas, it’s 2018 and most drivers are still behind the wheel of a car which essentially operates the same way a Model T did a century ago.
To their credit, car makers are dedicated to the idea of phasing out standard gas-powered automobiles and their parts, and producing nothing but hybrid and all-electric instead. Mercedes-Benz is no exception. With several hybrid models already on the market, it’s been breaking sales records for several years running. However, the German automobile manufacturer is not satisfied with hybrids and EVs being the only alternative fuel cars on the market of the near future. Instead, as shown with the unveiling of its new GLC at the Frankfurt Motor Show last fall, Mercedes wants to keep the hydrogen fuel cell a viable option for road vehicles going forward.
Building Awareness on a Foundation
The biggest hurdle in the introduction of these alternative fuel sources is the fact the vast majority of drivers consider overwhelming any thing outside the cabin. Most owners probably owe their selection to cosmetic or comfort factors, though they arguably pay just as much for the ultra-reliable and highly advanced Mercedes parts that power and support the car. In short, even though Mercedes Benz’s AMG performance parts compete up there with the best, typically luxury car owners want the nicest looking car and will care about mechanics later, if ever.
So if Mercedes tried to change the game under the hood along with the typical pricing, it may see a slow uptake. Rumored to start in just the $30-40k range, the automaker could benefit by implementing their hydrogen fuel cell technology into their mid-level lines. Its foundation of loyal, enthusiast drivers and hard core fans can better appreciate the evolution from gas to hybrid to electric to fuel cell. By appealing to them and building from there, the automaker may improve the rate at which the masses understand the benefits of hydrogen; and thus increase Mercedes’ recognition as a leader in alternative fuel parts and systems.
It’ll be a while before car owners and even mechanics across the country can work on Mercedes’ new fuel cells in their garages (and other hydrogen-powered engines). Similar to how the EV market has evolved over the last decade, as education, training and tools all become more widely available, so will the abilities to repair and maintain fuel cells become more attain able to those willing. In the meantime, lots of parts such as the suspension system, interior and body parts as well as even audio and accessories should continue to bepopular DIY upgrades and modifications amongst faithful Mercedes owners. That means online car parts stores like eEuroparts will still provide after market and OEM Mercedes parts to those wanting to tune up and customize their beloved automobiles. If any existing Mercedes parts change to different part numbers for its new vehicles, eEuroparts keeps close track of that. They try to help all car enthusiasts spend more time tuning and restoring and less time looking for what they need.
The Risks and Rewards of Hydrogen Powered Vehicles
The basic principle behind hydrogen powered vehicles is that they use compressed hydrogen stored in tanks – or fuel cells – to provide some or all of the energy needed to run an electric motor. If this sounds dangerous to you, you’re not alone.
With pilot projects and other instances where hydrogen powered vehicles are deployed on to the streets, many passengers are concerned about safety. The word “hydrogen” conjures up memories of high school chemistry, images of the Hindenburg disaster, and the prospect of nuclear holocaust – negative associations which, according to this recent Bloomberg report, stand in the way of making fuel cells the dominant source of motor vehicle propulsion in the near future despite their general safety and green factor.
Alas, Mercedes doesn’t see these initial public concerns about the safety of fuel cells as a good reason to just cease efforts in production of the GLC F-Cell and similar models in coming years. Under guidance from Daimler and along with many of the world’s other leading automobile manufacturers, Mercedes sees them as a normal part of the process.
It’s no different than the skepticism 130 years ago from those accustomed to horse and buggy upon sight of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Were their fears and concerns unfounded? Yes and no – we deal with the risks of high speed vehicular transportation today – but it’s an acceptable risk.
As mentioned earlier, the world is long overdue for a paradigm shift in mass-produced vehicle engines. Progress can not be made without at least some calculated risk. As Mercedes and other automakers have ensured high safety standards and protocols, one of their next battles is this one in the court of public opinion on hydrogen fuel.