First Look: Mercedes-Benz F125! Gullwing Coupe Concept

Hints at how Germans may put hydrogen power into production.

The Detroit Bureau

A day ahead of its planned top-secret unveiling, word – and images – of the Mercedes-Benz F125! has leaked out.  The gullwing coupe concept is apparently intended to provide a hint of what a hydrogen-powered sports coupe might look like.

The show car echoes other recent concepts, such as the striking A-Class prototype unveiled last April in New York, with its almost liquid silver paint and high-tech LED lighting.  The flip-open doors are largely borrowed from the Mercedes SLS supercar.

Mercedes has been a diehard proponent of hydrogen technology, betting that it may eventually succeed the battery cars that have lately stolen much of the green powertrain thunder.  The German maker recently launched a prototype, dubbed the F-Cell, which it is leasing to a small number of customers in Southern California – one of the few places in the world with relatively easy access to hydrogen pumps.

But the German government has authorized a multi-billion Euro effort to put up more than 1,000 hydrogen stations around the country – they will also offer battery chargers – which would make hydrogen power a practical reality as long as one didn’t stray too far over the border.

According to reports on Omni Auto and Autoblog, the F125! is designed to test the waters for a design that could influence a future version of the Mercedes CL coupe.

Out of sight is a fuel cell stack that combines hydrogen gas and air to produce water vapor and a steady stream of electric current.  That will be used to power four individual electric motors producing a combined 231 hp and, we are guessing, a significant amount of torque that should provide even better acceleration than the horsepower figure suggests.  The coupe is said to launch from 0 to 60 in just 4.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 137 mph.

The F125! is expected to consume 0.79 kilograms of hydrogen per 100 kilometers (roughly equivalent to about 80 miles per gallon).  The good news is that while the wheels may be powered by electric motors the F125! would be able to fill up in perhaps five minutes or less.  Its compressed hydrogen tank stores enough of the lightweight gas to travel 621 miles between fill-ups.

The vehicle does use a battery to help maximize performance and improve fuel efficiency.  It’s a 10 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack.  Since it operates as a plug-in system that means a motorist could get 31 miles on battery power alone before the fuel cell stack goes into operation.

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