Daimler-Benz’s New Prototype Vehicle Powered by Fuel Cells

A prototype fuel cell-powered passenger vehicle was unveiled in May, 1996, in Berlin, Germany, by Daimler-Benz. The “NECAR II” (which stands for New Electric Car) is powered by Ballard Power Systems’ fuel cells.

NECAR II is based upon the Mercedes-Benz V Class minivan. The only external difference from the internal combustion engine-powered vehicle is the roof spoiler over the hydrogen fuel tanks and the “no emission” insignia on the side.

Daimler-Benz’s hydrogen-powered passenger vehicle was unveiled in Berlin, Germany, in May, 1996. Ballard Fuel Cells convert the hydrogen (or natural gas or methanol) into electricity to run the minivan.

NECAR II is quiet—as the fuel cell has no moving parts—and produces no pollution, since the only by-product of Ballard Fuel Cells is pure water vapor. It can carry six people at a top speed of 110 kilometers per hour and has an operating range of more than 250 kilometers between fillings.

The Ballard Fuel Cell converts natural gas, methanol, or hydrogen fuel into electricity without combustion. They are small enough to fit under the floor of the vehicle, giving NECAR II virtually the same interior space as the standard combustion engine-powered vehicle.

Besides the new fuel cell, NECAR II also has a number of other high-tech features:

Work is proceeding already on new developments aimed at making the fuel cell vehicle even more efficient, lighter, and simpler. It is envisaged that the next generation of research vehicles should not have to transport gaseous hydrogen but will produce the hydrogen on-board, from methanol. This would have the great advantage in that an ordinary fuel tank could be used and that the driver could fill up with fuel in the same way as with conventional fuels. The existing infrastructure of filling stations and fuel pumps could thus be adapted at relatively little expense.

For further information, contact: Paul Lancaster, Ballard Power Systems, Inc., 9000 Glenlyon Parkway, Burnaby, B.C., V5J 5J9, Canada; phone: +1.604.454.0900; fax: +1.604.412.4700.

©1996. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of the National Hydrogen Association.
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