Frankfurt 2011: Mercedes-Benz F125! Research Vehicle

By John Beltz Snyder

September 13, 2011

Mercedes-Benz has revealed its newest research vehicle, this one with emissions-free driving as the main subject of study and innovation. Called F125! (M-B includes the exclamation point), it is an F-Cell (hydrogen) plug-in hybrid with a range of 621 miles.
The F125! is a large luxury car created with lightweight materials. Its hydrogen cell and electric powertrain drive all four wheels individually, offering specific torque control for each wheel. It features cloud-based infotainment, which Mercedes is calling @yourCOMAND. Perhaps most importantly to longtime fans of the brand, though, is the fact that the F125! features those iconic gullwing doors.
The research is focused around the storage of hydrogen energy. F125! integrates fuel storage into the body of the vehicle, allowing for a greater overall range without compromising interior space. Mercedes-Benz expects the use of this sort of fuel-cell strange to be incorporated into production vehicles by 2025.
Because the F125! is efficient doesn’t mean it’s a slouch. The e4Matic system borrows components from the SLS AMG ECell, and produces 308 peak horsepower. It can reach 60 miles per hour in a quick but reasonable 4.8 seconds, before going on to a top speed of 137 miles per hour.
Scroll down for more detailed information in the official press release.
The new Mercedes-Benz F125! research vehicle
Redefining automotive luxury:
First Class emission-free driving
  • Trailblazing concept for large, luxurious automobiles
  • F-CELL Plug-in HYBRID with a range of 621 miles
  • Revolutionary hydrogen storage technology
  • Lithium-sulphur high-voltage battery with high energy density
  • Pioneering battery charging by induction
  • e4MATIC-all-wheel drive with four wheel electric motors and individual torque control at each wheel
  • Bodyshell of lightweight hybrid construction with gullwing doors for optimal access, more safety and reduced weight
  • Innovative sedan architecture
  • Driver-fitness, safety and ease of operation at the highest level, thanks to natural touch, gesture and voice control
  • Always online, always connected with "@yourCOMAND" Cloud-based infotainment
As a highlight marking 125 years of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz is presenting a visionary outlook on future technical developments in the luxury segment. The F125! research vehicle anticipates future trends and paves the way for innovative large and luxurious automobiles.
The F125! showcases the vision of emission-free driving with hydrogen power, underlining the potential of H2 as an energy source for the future. While previous Mercedes-Benz research vehicles have "looked ahead" by roughly one vehicle generation - seven to eight years - the F125! goes a whole step further, by more than two generations to the year 2025 and beyond.
"With the F125! we want to show that large, comfortable and safe cars have an excellent future, partly because they are able to operate with no emissions. The legendary S-Class will continue into the future thanks to intelligent solutions that always have the customer's needs in mind," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "The new research vehicle illustrates and underlines this claim to leadership with innovative ideas and traditional Mercedes strengths in the areas of design, safety, comfort and performance."
Innovative ideas reaffirm the claim to leadership in the luxury segment
The F125! demonstrates how completely emission-free, individual mobility might be realized in the luxury segment in the future. The researchers and developers at Mercedes-Benz have incorporated technologies that although may not yet be available today show great future promise, and therefore a realistic chance of implementation in future series-production cars. The key innovations include:
  • A logical further development of the fuel cell drive system in combination with plug-in technology
  • Revolutionary tank technology: the structure integrated hydrogen composite storage unit.
  • Lighter and more powerful batteries, in this case based on lithium-sulphur technology, which Mercedes-Benz is exploring in parallel with further development of the current lithium-ion battery and research into lithium-air technology.
On this basis, the F125! was created as an innovative four-seater luxury sedan with a powerful, emission-free electric drive system based on the fuel cell technology already available in series-production Mercedes-Benz cars. This study combines pioneering and highly efficient storage, drive and bodyshell technologies with unique control and display concepts. The research vehicle also presents itself with an expressive design which transfers the classic Mercedes design language into the future.
Highlights of the F125!:
  • Completely emission-free mobility with a range of up to 621 miles, full day-to-day drivability, superior performance and first-class comfort.
  • An innovative, lightweight hybrid construction bodyshell with a high proportion of fiber-reinforced plastics and an intelligent mix of carbon-fiber, aluminum and high-strength steels, which allows a significant weight reduction while offering a further considerable improvement in safety. A high-strength construction with crash-responsive protective systems within the doors allows the omission of B-pillars, as well as the use of wide gull-wing doors which allow convenient access to the four seats. In this way the Mercedes-Benz safety philosophy and in particular the decisive principle of the rigid passenger cell developed by Béla Barényi in 1952 are being deliberately carried forward to the future of individual mobility.
  • A high-voltage lithium-sulphur battery with a specific energy density of 350 Wh per kg at cell level, which allows considerably higher recuperation rates in combination with the e4MATIC all-wheel drive.
  • A control and display system based on touch, speech and hand-gestures makes the F125! a true "companion" with whom the driver is able to interact flexibly and effortlessly. The gullwing doors of light-weight CRP construction can also be opened and closed by hand-gestures.
  • Highly attractive displays using 3D and projector-beam technology to open up new visual possibilities.
  • Next-generation, substantially networked telematics allow internet-based voice control, integration into social media and extensive remote control of vehicle settings and entertainment functions.
  • Innovative assistance systems for lasting driver stress relief, e.g. Advanced Driving Assist for semi-autonomous driving.
  • Trailblazing exterior and interior design based on a completely new sedan architecture.
Revolutionary: structural integrated hydrogen composite storage unit
To store the hydrogen as the fuel of the future, Mercedes engineers adapted a technology which is still in the research phase, opening up completely new areas of vehicle architecture and operating range. "The structural integrated hydrogen composite unit of the F125! represents a real technological revolution, as it allows the hydrogen tank to be fully integrated into the bodyshell structure for the first time. In the future, vehicles with emission-free fuel cell drive systems could achieve the operating ranges of current diesel models with no loss of interior space," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber. Based on the current level of know-how, Mercedes specialists consider it possible that they may develop this technology to series production level in 2025.
The tank, integrated into the floor assembly, has a capacity of around 7.5 kg of hydrogen. Compared to the high-pressure tanks in use today, the H2 tank potentially requires less installation space. This is because in order to withstand a pressure of more than 10,000 psi, current tanks need to be cylindrical in shape, with round cross-sections which inevitably create "cavities" between tanks installed next to or above each other. In contrast, tanks that can be filled at a pressure of 435 psi or less can be better integrated into the bodyshell. At the same time they are able to act as "structural" components.
Lithium-sulphur battery: compact and powerful
A highly advanced, very powerful lithium-sulphur battery is used in the F125!. It has a storage capacity of 10 kWh and is installed behind the rear seats. Combining the fuel cell drive system with the innovative lithium-sulphur battery makes a total operating range of up to 621 miles possible, of which up to 31 miles can be under battery-electric power alone. It can be inductively charged at "intelligent" charging stations, and the convenient charging process can be monitored by smartphone. When designing the F125!, the developers worked on the assumption that by the time of its introduction into series production, this battery type will be capable of energy densities up to 350 Wh per kg. This would represent roughly a doubling of current performance. The real potential of this technology is still being uncovered.
Further development of the fuel cell as an energy source
At the heart of the drive system lies an especially powerful and refined version of the Mercedes-Benz fuel cell stack, which has demonstrated its efficiency and dayto- day drivability during the successful B-Class F-CELL World Drive earlier this year.
On January 29th, marking the 125th birthday of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz began the first circumnavigation of the globe with fuel cell powered electric cars in Stuttgart - covering more than 18,600 miles on four continents and through 14 countries. The three fuel cell powered B-Class cars and their backup vehicles returned safely to Stuttgart 125 days later.
The stack in the F125!, with even more performance, efficiency and practical suitability, provides the power for four powerful electric motors installed near the wheels, which provide sporty, superior performance. All in all the modular e4MATIC system, which also uses improved drive components from the SLS AMG E-CELL, generates a continuous output of 228hp and a peak output of 308 hp.
This accelerates the F125! to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, with a top speed of 137 mph. Nonetheless, NEDC fuel consumption is only 0.79 kilograms of hydrogen per 62 miles (= 2.7 liters diesel equivalent).
Always online, always connected: "@yourCOMAND"
With the visionary infotainment system "@yourCOMAND", the F125! provides an outlook on future Mercedes-Benz telematics systems. Its trailblazing features include:
Natural Handling allows operation mostly by natural speech supplemented with touch and intuitive hand-gestures. In the interest of maximum driver-fitness and operating safety, the F125! becomes the perfect, always alert companion for its driver and passengers. The possibilities go well beyond those of current systems. The driver can, for example, request news items that are tailored to his personal needs, and make specific, contextual inquiries, without removing his hands from the wheel. The COMAND of tomorrow also becomes proactive.
In the future, the driver will be able to start with the traffic report or retrieve personal messages before the selected music program begins. The weather report will then automatically play before the journey ends, for example. Thanks to the mood-based configuration function "Moods", such individual adjustments will be completed in a matter of seconds in future. The F125! also opens up completely new dimensions when it comes to external communication and the use of social networks. With the help of the Social Community Assistant, the driver alone can decide who is allowed to "disturb" him, or who receives information.
Thanks to the Seamless Experience functions, the multimedia systems of the F125! are seamlessly and cross-functionally networked, socially interactive and non-distracting. The exchange of information is no longer impeded or interrupted on journeys, but is an integral part of the concept. Because of constant connectivity with the Cloud, the driver has seamless access to all the media he normally uses. The tedious synchronization of different communication and entertainment devices is also completely eliminated. The so-called "digital lifestyle" of many customers can therefore be continued both seamlessly and safely when on board.
Sensory Perfection in the F125! means high-end sound and high-resolution screens with brilliant, individual displays. If required, the autostereoscopic 3D display for spatial representation of the instrument cluster is able to show relevant information in clustered form. The 3D image adapts natural visual habits, allows a better overview and thus relieves the driver of stress. The head unit in the upper section of the center console uses projector-beam technology, and is controlled via a touchpad with 3D fingertracking located within easy reach of the driver. In addition to the head unit, the integrated selection bar enables the instrument cluster and rear-view display to be selected. Activated in this way, these displays can also be centrally operated. A further, retractable 17-inch display is installed on the front passenger side, and is fully controlled by hand gestures. In this way a rear passenger can select his program with no physical contact.
A high-resolution wide-image display allows the entire traffic situation behind the vehicle to be conveniently monitored, and makes exterior mirrors unnecessary. The image is adapted to human perceptive powers at all times, and once again provides a much clearer overview with more rapid and intuitive registration of the relevant traffic situation.
The vehicle and its multimedia system, as well as all applications and contents, can be completely remote-controlled using the Remote Convenience functions. This means that via the vehicle's specific homepage, authorized individuals have access at all times to information such as the fuel level, next scheduled service or fuel consumption. Just as easily, a home PC or smartphone can be used for remote configuration of the onboard navigation or entertainment system, and to select individual interior temperature settings for each seat.
New assistance systems: recognizing dangers, traveling in style
With the help of innovative driver assistance systems, the touring sedan of the future neutralizes even "invisible" hazards and relieves driver stress in many common situations. If the driver requires, the F125! is able to carry out frequently occurring driving maneuvers autonomously.
Advanced Driving Assist allows lane-changes on multi-lane, one-way roads, and upon further development even automatic overtaking maneuvers. Thanks to radiobased networking with the environment, so-called Car-to-X communication, the F125! is also able to exchange information with other vehicles, a specially equipped infrastructure incl. traffic lights or warning signs and traffic control centers. Specific applications might include a warning of approaching emergency service vehicles, well before the driver can see or hear them, a reminder that other vehicles have the right of way at obscure road intersections, or obstacles on the road.
Mobility of the future - Utopias shaping our tomorrow
It was visionaries and dreamers who prepared the way for "automobility". The first tentative steps were taken at the end of the 19th Century - in a techno-logical environment where the steam engine dominated the world of power generation. The steam locomotive added motion to this machine, and tracks were laid everywhere.
The idea of fitting coach-like vehicles with compact, fast-running internal combustion engines to make individual, easy and comfortable mobility possible beyond the railway tracks was seen as "utopian" at the time, synonymous with "science fiction" or "fantasy".
Visionary engineers and utopians such as Carl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach and Rudolf Diesel refused to be daunted. With the F125! Mercedes-Benz is once again demonstrating this pioneering spirit.
F 125! - a specific outlook on the vision of emission-free driving
With the new Mercedes-Benz research vehicle, the vision of emission-free driving with large, luxurious automobiles takes on a defined form. The F125! shows that the mobility of the future is emission-free and sustainable, comfortable and visually appealing. It embodies technical and design innovation, and shows the way towards a society able to cope without fossil fuels.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz F125!
Length (in)
Width (in)
Height (in)
Wheelbase (in)
Trunk capacity (cu. ft.)
Flywheel mass category (kg)
7 ½ JX 23
245/35 R 23
Peak output of rear motors (hp)
each approx. 134
Torque of rear motors (lb-ft)
each approx. 148
Peak output of front motors (hp)
each approx. 67
Torque (front motors) (lb-ft)
each approx. 55
Total sustained output (hp)
Total peak output (hp)
Wheel torque (lb-ft)
Acceleration 0-60 mph (s)
Acceleration 50-75 mph (s)
Top speed (mph)
Hydrogen consumption (kg/100 km)
CO2 comb. (g/km min./max.)
Total range acc. to NEDC (mi)
Capacity of solid H2 reservoir (kg)
approx. 7.5
Energy content of lithium-sulphur battery (kWh)
*target figures; **2.7 l diesel equivalent