To make a statement about its upcoming fuel cell vehicle's zero carbon footprint, Mercedes-Benz decided to cloak an F-Cell to make it seem invisible.
This cloaking technology isn't a new feature that you'll see on the next generation of Mercedes vehicles, even the futuristic hydrogen-powered ones. At least not yet. Engineers pulled off this publicity stunt by covering the F-Cell with LED-embedded mats on one side and outfitting it with cameras on the other. Video captured by the cameras was displayed on the LED mats on the opposite side of the vehicle, which made the car appear invisible to pedestrians watching from the sidelines.
Based on the B-Class, the F-Cell has an estimated driving range of 190 miles. The cloaked hydrogen-powered car toured Germany for a week to seed the idea that the fuel cell vehicle's zero tailpipe emissions means it has no impact on the environment, and is therefor "invisible to the environment." A fuel cell vehicle emits only water vapor as a byproduct of burning hydrogen fuel. However, how little of a carbon footprint it really has depends on where the hydrogen is sourced.
Several manufacturers, public, and private organizations are working on ways to produce hydrogen using renewable energy, such as solar power, wind power, or methane gas powered hydrogen fueling stations. But the most common way to manufacture hydrogen to date is through energy-intensive electrolysis, which makes hydrogen vehicles no cleaner than electric cars on the market.
The video will also spread the word that hydrogen-powered vehicles are coming. Fuel cells are expected to enter mass production in 2015, and to get them ready for the U.S. market, Mercedes-Benz and several other manufacturers, including General Motors, Honda, and Toyota, are conducting field trials of fuel cell vehicles in the U.S. In fact, the German car maker is still accepting applications to lease an F-Cell.