This, is Mercedes’ F-CELL roadster. Essentially it’s a styling study/what if/concept deal dreamed up by some students/young acolytes working for the German firm about what the future of automobility should look like.
If this is Mercedes’ idea of the future, I want to know what they’ve been smoking.
My first thought when these pictures landed on my “desk” was “Boy, that thing sure looks like Merc’s first car, the Patentwagen.” Seems like I wasn’t the only one thinking that, check out the shot I found deeper in the stack of Mercedes’ photos:
Yeah, it’s the wheels, sure. They’re a big part of it. And I can see where they’re going: Light weight. Which is kind of ironic, if you think about it, because Mercedes, wonderful as they are, have never exactly been light cars.
Anyway, the F-CELL is a roadster with fuel cell drive designed and built by trainees from the Sindelfingen Mercedes-Benz plant. 150 of these trainees worked on it for more than a year and dual education system students worked on the overall concept, development, assembly, and completion of the car.
The project involved junior employees from the fields of automotive mechatronics, model-building, electronics, coating technology, manufacturing mechanics, product design, and interior appointments.
For some reason, Merc keeps stressing that these are “trainees”, and I’m not sure if that’s a way to boost their moral, or keep them in their place within the hierarchy of Daimler AG. One way or the other, Mercedes did this to integrate the topic of alternative drive systems into training with hands-on experience – so good for them.
Gunther Fleig, Human Resources Board member and Labor Relations Manager says, “This project impressively demonstrates that the topic of sustainable mobility has become an integral part of our vocational training. I am delighted to see how much initiative and creativity the young people have put into this project.”
The F-CELL car itself is quite interesting, if appearing quite spindly.
That spindly quality is obviously an allusion to the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886, the vehicle is fitted with large-spoked wheels. The F-CELL Roadster also incorporates stylistic elements from diverse eras of automotive history, such as the carbon-fiber bucket seats with hand-stitched leather covers and the distinctively styled fiberglass front section, based on the nose from Mercedes F1 cars, much like various SLs.
Sad they had to use that as a styling cue, but hey, they’re Germans, not Italians.
The F-CELL Roadster is controlled with drive-by-wire technology, and a joystick takes the place of a conventional steering wheel. The vehicle is powered by the emission-free fuel cell system located at the rear. With a power rating of 1.2 kW the F-CELL Roadster reaches a top speed of 25 km/h and has an operating range of up to 350 km.