DaimlerChrysler Unveils New Necar 5 Fuel Cell Vehicle

November 07, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

DaimlerChrysler Corp. (Stuttgart, Germany) recently unveiled the Necar 5, which they have dubbed the next-generation methanol-powered fuel cell vehicle. The direct successor of the Necar 3, the Necar 5 is both smaller and more powerful than its previous incarnations. It took three years, but DaimlerChrysler engineers finally succeeded in reducing the size of the fuel cell drive system in half, fitting all of it, including the methanol reformer, within the sandwich floor of a Mercedes-Benz A-Class. They also reduced the weight of the system by about 660 pounds.

DaimlerChrysler claims that the reduction in the weight of the system, and therefore of the car itself, results in better driving dynamics and acceleration. This, coupled with an improved motor and higher-output fuel cell, makes the new Necar 50 percent more powerful than its precursor. While Necar 3 required two fuel cell stacks to generate 50kW of electric power, the new Necar 5 uses a single stack to deliver 75kW. Additionally, DaimlerChrysler's engineers claim that the Necar 5 utilizes energy from its fuel over 25 percent more efficiently than a conventional car, even though it is heavier than a traditional vehicle. Finally, Necar 5 can reach speeds of over 93mph while providing a significant reduction in greenhouse gases and virtually eliminating tailpipe emissions.

The DaimlerChrysler development engineers plan to conduct extensive tests with Necar 5 to collect data for further optimization of the vehicle. Ferdinand Panik, director of the fuel cell project at DaimlerChrysler, believes that, "With Necar5, we've come a substantial step closer to our goal of developing a fuel cell car suitable for personal transportation."