DaimlerChrysler today handed over its first fuel cell passenger cars to German customers in Berlin.

The partners Deutsche Telekom and BEWAG/Vattenfall Europe took delivery of these A-Class “F-Cell” vehicles for their fleets at the Mercedes-Benz Salzufer outlet.

Europe’s first service station for fuel cell cars also commenced regular operation.

“With the delivery of these vehicles, which will drive in regular operation, we are making a statement in Germany: The technology has now outgrown the research stage once and for all”, said Dr. Thomas Weber, DaimlerChrysler Board member.

“We are introducing fuel cell vehicles on public roads, thus paving the way for a broad basis of experience. We are very happy to have found two highly committed partners, Deutsche Telekom and Bewag/Vattenfall Europe, for this important phase.”

In the F-Cell A-Class, the entire fuel cell system and the hydrogen cylinders are located in the vehicle’s underfloor unit; the interior and the luggage compartment can thus be utilised to the full, and the vehicle can still accommodate four occupants.

Its high-torque electric motor makes for a “dynamic driving style” in both city and country traffic conditions. The entire drive system, comprising multiple fuel cells connected in series to create a “stack”, has been developed by DC’s partner Ballard.

This system is the result of a ten-year development programme that started with NECAR1, DC’s first fuel cell vehicle – at the time, a world first. Since then, technology has advanced and numerous concept vehicles have been produced.

Additionally, the technology has been deployed in a variety of test fields. Thirty fuel cell buses can now be regularly seen on the roads of ten major European cities, while in the USA the delivery company UPS transports its packages in fuel cell Sprinters. In Japan, employees from the Tokyo Gas Co. and Bridgestone Corp. are also on the move in fuel cell vehicles.