Mercedes-Benz has delved into the world of fuel-cell vehicles before, with several concepts and the F-Cell prototype from a few years back.
But so far — like most automakers — there’s not been a model people can actually buy.
Mercedes’ most recent fuel-cell vehicle was based on the first-generation Mercedes B-Class in 2009, a compact front-wheel drive minivan not dissimilar from Ford’s C-Max. The B-Class F-Cell, as it was known, could deliver a hydrogen range of 250 miles.
The company launched a test fleet of the vehicles and even planned to put a similar vehicle on sale by this year, but axed plans when it became apparent such a project wouldn’t justify itself in sales volumes.
That might change in a few years though, with several global automakers–notably Toyota and Honda–planning to launch a production fuel-cell car in the next year or two.
By 2017, fuel-cell sales may be replicating the early days of modern electric vehicles in 2010 and 2011 — not huge by any means, but enough to signify a trend, rather than a flash-in-the-pan.
A small but growing network of hydrogen filling stations should be established by then too. Availability of hydrogen is currently one of the main stumbling blocks for fuel-cell adoption, and unlike battery electric vehicles there’s no convenient way to refuel at home, either.
Mercedes sales and marketing boss Ola Kallenius told Motoring the “next generation” of fuel-cell vehicles could appear in 2017 — expected to be in the form of a crossover or SUV model.
Daimler, the company behind Mercedes-Benz, last year signed an agreement with Ford and Nissan to share costs of future fuel-cell development.
It’s one of several large-scale agreements between automakers to bring down the cost of developing the technology, which is considerably more expensive than conventional electric vehicles.
This story originally appeared on Green Car Reports. Copyright 2014