Mercedes-Benz has been toying with alternative-energy prototype vehicles for awhile now, the obviously conceptual F-CELL Roadster hearkens back to M-B vehicles of old, though the engine is far from retro.
Times may be tough, but that isn't stopping Daimler from having a bit of expensive-looking fun with its trainees... so long as there's an educational bent to it. What you see before you isn't an artful series of renderings, it's an actual time-warping fuel cell concept dubbed "F-CELL Roadster."It took a year and more than 150 trainees to create, but the entire project involved using "junior employees", giving the company's up-and-coming employees a creative way to learn how alternative-fuel systems come together.The F-CELL Roadster marries Benz Patent Motor Car stylings with 21st century tech wonderfully, including that legendary vehicle's general aesthetic and proportions, along with old-meets-new technologies like carbon-fiber buckets capped in hand-stitched leather and a drive-by-wire central control joystick.The centerpiece, of course, is the Roadster's fuel cell powertrain, which has a power rating of 1.2 kilowatts, a top speed of 25 kilometers-per-hour, and a range of 350 kilometers. That means you'll have a long, slow trip, just like those adventuring motorists back at the turn of the century. Official press release posted after the jump.
The F-CELL Roadster built by apprentices at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen covered a section of the historic route taken by Bertha Benz on the past weekend. Starting in Mannheim, the fuel cell powered car was driven via Ladenburg and Heidelberg. The symbolic passing of the finish line was at the chemist’s shop in Wiesloch, where Bertha Benz stopped to refuel during the first long-distance journey in automobile history in 1888. “This trip by the F-CELL Roadster is symbolic of the current change taking place in automobile engineering”, says Dr. Thomas Weber. “At that time Bertha Benz was not yet able to purchase the petrol she needed at a filling station, and for emission-free mobility we are also dependent on the widespread distribution of fuels for the future – electric power and hydrogen. But just as Bertha Benz refused to be discouraged by inconveniences in her day, we are just as determined to help ensure that these technologies achieve their breakthrough.” Before the end of this year, Mercedes-Benz will commence small-series production of the B-Class with a fuel cell drive system. At the end of 2009 the first examples of the smart fortwo electric drive model will also leave the production line to enter service in the “e-mobility Berlin” project early next year.
Developed by 150 trainees of Daimler AG at the Sindelfingen Mercedes-Benz plant, the F-Cell Roadster is being claimed as a unique blend of art and technology. As an allusion to the Benz Patent Motor Car from the late 1880s, the car is fitted with a hybrid drivetrain and spoked wheels.
Powered by a 1.2KW hybrid drive, the car is capable of hitting a top speed of 15 mph and an operating range in excess of 210 miles. Of course the car won’t be the fastest to get off the blocks, but the design and the features do display the feasibility of tweaked historic cars in today’s modern era.
The F-CELL Roadster uniquely combines state-of-the-art technologies with the history of vehicle construction. As an allusion to the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886, the vehicle is fitted with large spoked wheels. Moreover, the F-CELL Roadster incorporates stylistic elements from diverse eras of automotive history, such as the carbon-fiber bucket seats with hand-stitched leather covers and the distinctively styled fiberglass front section, based on the component from the Formula One racing bolides. The F-CELL Roadster is controlled with drive-by-wire technology, and a joystick takes the place of a conventional steering wheel. The vehicle is powered by the emission-free fuel cell system located at the rear. With a power rating of 1.2 kW the F-CELL Roadster reaches a top speed of 25 km/h and has an operating range of up to 350 km.