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Driving Today

Mercedes-Benz F125 Makes a Loud Case for the Future

Take one fuel-cell stack and add a big high-tech battery, and you have a recipe for the luxury car o...

If there was any question as to where Mercedes-Benz intends to go in light of the recent governmental push for higher fuel economy and lower emissions, its display at the Frankfurt Motor Show leaves no doubt. It will continue to be a maker of large, luxurious vehicles, but those vehicles might -- again, might -- be powered by something other than the traditional internal combustion engine. A case in point is the Mercedes-Benz F125 research vehicle that combines a futuristic power scheme with out-of-this-world design. With the 228 continuous horsepower and the ability to offer short bursts of 308 horsepower, the F125 is said to leap from 0 to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in 4.8 seconds. With a top speed of 137 mph, this gull-wing-equipped sedan can almost fly.

Of course, it is the powertrain that sets the F125 apart. Under the hood is the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell fuel-cell stack, which is the prime creator of electricity; however, the car also boasts a 10 kilowatt-hour battery, which uses Mercedes-Benz-favored lithium-sulfur chemistry. A battery and the fuel cell power four electric motors, one for each wheel, and the whole system talks to itself through a mission-control-like version of the E4MATIC system.

Somehow (mainly through the use of carbon-fiber) Mercedes-Benz engineers were able to make this dreadnaught weigh less than 4,000 pounds, and by incorporating the hydrogen fuel storage in the body structure, the F125 is said to carry enough fuel -- and electricity in its big battery -- to offer a range of 620 miles. No range anxiety here. The only anxious moments might come when a customer is forced to pay for all this. The technical tour-de-force could have a cost equivalent of Greece’s national debt. The good news is customers on the hunt for ultra-luxury will always have a place to go so long as they have money.