DaimlerChrysler Unveils NECAR 4

March 17, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

DaimlerChrysler AG (Munich) this week unveiled the NECAR 4, the first drivable, zero-emission, fuel cell vehicle in the United States. According to the automaker, the NECAR 4 demonstrates a 40 percent increase in fuel cell power and up to three times the range of a battery-powered vehicle. Based on a Mercedes-Benz A-class compact car, the NECAR 4 incorporates an engine developed by dbb fuel cell engines. The vehicle's electric drivetrain, including the motor/transaxle and electric power converter, was developed by Ecostar Electric Drive Systems. Both dbb and Ecostar are jointly owned by DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co. and Ballard Power Systems.The NECAR 4 reaches top speeds of 90mph, compared to a previous top speed of 68mph in its technological predecessor NECAR 2. The vehicle can travel nearly 280 miles (450km) before refueling. DaimlerChrysler engineers mounted the complete fuel cell system in the vehicle floor for the first time, allowing room for up to five passengers and "plenty" of cargo space in the compact car. The car is powered by liquid hydrogen stored in a cryogenic cylinder at the rear of the vehicle. "DaimlerChrysler is leading the race to develop high performance, comfortable and practical zero-emissions vehicles," stated Chairman Bob Eaton. "With NECAR 4, we've already proven that fuel cell technology is viable. Now, we are working to make the technology affordable for every consumer."DaimlerChrysler Chairman Juergen Schrempp commented, "We are investing in fuel cells, because we are committed to sustainable mobility and because we believe this investment will pay off. Fuel cells have the potential to be the most attractive alternative propulsion system for the long term."Schrempp added, "Since 1994, DaimlerChrysler has presented five different non-hybrid drivable fuel cell vehicles. We have solved the most challenging technical problems. So let me say: Today, we declare the race to demonstrate the technical viability of fuel cell vehicles over. Now, we begin the race to make them affordable."DaimlerChrysler stated it will invest more than $1.4 billion in fuel cell technology development by the time the first fuel cell vehicles come to market, which the company anticipates will be by 2004.