Daimler is now taking orders for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell hydrogen fuel-cell car that will be leased to customers in California. The monthly lease price will be $600 to $800 including fuel. The leases are being limited to drivers in Los Angeles and the San Francisco area, due to limited availability of hydrogen fuel.

Mercedes said the B-Class F-Cell will have a driving range of 240 miles, and there will be six hydrogen fueling stations open to the public in the Los Angeles area this year.

Drive the F-Cell!

Fill out a Mercedes-Benz questionnaire if you’re interested in leasing the B-Class F-Cell hydrogen car.

It’s not a coincidence that Mercedes is introducing a marketing campaign about the full range of alternative vehicles, at the same time that it introduces the F-Cell car. In a Mercedes-sponsored poll by Harris Interactive in July, fewer than three in 10 respondents were knowledgeable about the differences between hybrid-electric, battery-electric and plug-in hybrids. And yet, 39 percent said they were considering an alternative energy vehicle.

Daimler is moving forward with its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, and already offers six alternative technology Mercedes-Benz vehicles: two hybrids as well as four Bluetec clean diesel vehicles. All of these alternative vehicles sell in low volume—fewer than 100 per month for the hybrids, and 400 or less for the clean diesel vehicles.

In an interview conducted for PluginCars.com, Sascha Simon, Mercedes-Benz department manager of advanced products planning, explained the advantages of the F-Cell hydrogen-electric vehicle compared to a battery-electric car. “This will be the first electric vehicle that never needs to be plugged in, and doesn’t come with built-in range anxiety,” Simon said. “It’s a really great vehicle. It’s a full electric vehicle without the disadvantages of batteries.”

Simon believes that real-world range of 60 or 70 miles for battery-electric cars will present a problem for suburban and rural drivers. “If you live in the middle of Kansas, or in Colorado or anywhere in the countryside where your next supermarket is 40 or 50 miles away, you have a problem,” Simon said. Meanwhile, conventional hybrids are ideal for “a lot of stop and go, any suburban area where the commute is marked by sitting on the highway in traffic,” and clean diesel is the technology of choice for longer-distance driving and pulling boats. “We don’t believe in a one size fits all approach. Also, all of these technologies build one upon another.”

Simon believes that the end game is electric mobility using hydrogen fuel cell technology. “We believe it’s the only technology that’s able to completely eliminate the need for carbon fuels,” he said.