The world—and the automotive industry in particular—took a deep but cautious breath this week as Mercedes-Benz unveiled what it called a "zero emission" automobile engine. With the aid of a lot of government spending and support from Ford and Nissan, Mercedes says it's ready to start selling its hydrogen-fueled cars to the public as early as 2017.
"We're very sure we can achieve a product cost level which is competitive [with today's hybrid cars]," said Christian Mohrdieck of Damler (Mercedes's parent corporation). "But to get there, we still need to work very intensively on the business side."
But don't expect to see them in everyone's driveway anytime soon. Platinum components are expected to drive up the cost of hydrogen cars to above $100,000. Additionally, hydrogen cars will require a new network of special fueling stations.
On the positive side, hydrogen stations could operate on much the same model as existing conventional gas pumps.