Mercedes-Benz is displaying the latest DaimlerChrysler fuel cell vehicle at the L.A. Auto Show, January 4-11 in the Los Angeles Convention Center. Based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class model currently sold abroad, the “F-Cell” fuel cell vehicle is fueled by compressed hydrogen. UPS along with other corporate and municipal customers, will lease a significant number of “F-Cell” test cars in the U.S. over the coming year.Los Angeles, California – January 6, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] During 2004, the F-Cell fleet in the U.S. will expand gradually in three areas: Detroit, Michigan; Sacramento, California; and Los Angeles, California. DaimlerChrysler has emissions testing facilities near Los Angeles and Detroit; and the California Fuel Cell Partnership is based in Sacramento. The Partnership brings together the auto industry, government and oil companies in an effort to develop fuel-cell technology and address the infrastructure issue. According to DaimlerChrysler, the F-Cell fleet represents a next step in the production of zero-emission vehicles. The hydrogen-powered F-Cell cars are being built in conventional manufacturing facilities and will be tested by corporate and municipal customers for feedback in “everyday-use” situations. Acknowledging that the development of automotive fuel cells has made enormous progress in the past few years, DaimlerChrysler concedes that some major challenges still remain. The cost of fuel-cell vehicles must be reduced to compete with conventional engine technology, while the production of hydrogen fuel and development of a refueling infrastructure needs to be established and standardized. “Fuel cell technology gives us the opportunity to bring mobility together with environmental compatibility and make a major contribution to society,” said Professor Juergen Hubbert, DaimlerChrysler AG board member in charge of the Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and smart passenger car division. “To enable the fuel cell to go on the market in the foreseeable future, most importantly the fuel and infrastructure issues must be clarified in a worldwide initiative, jointly with the political community, the mineral oil industry and the energy sector.” In the F-Cell, the entire fuel-cell system is housed between the bi-level “sandwich” floors of the A-Class, a compact Mercedes-Benz model not yet sold in the U.S. As a result, all the cargo- and people-carrying features of five-passenger car are preserved. The fuel cell (actually a stack of PEM membranes) is supplied by tanks of hydrogen that are compressed to around 5000 pounds per square inch. Its electric motor produces 65 kW, which translates to about 155 ft-lb. of torque and 87 horsepower. Development engineers, too, still face numerous challenges, referring mainly to the further reduction of weight and cost as well as the improvement of reliability and durability,” said Hubbert. “In this field, manufacturers should cooperate more intensively so as to promote the breakthrough of this key technology.” Since the debut of the first NECAR vehicle in 1994, DaimlerChrysler AG has developed more than 20 concept vehicles utilizing fuel cell technology. Each time, the size and weight of the system was reduced, while its power, efficiency and performance were improved. About 30 fuel- cell Citaro buses are already serving ten European cities, and 60 Mercedes-Benz A-Class F-Cell vehicles will be on the road by the end of 2004.