Mercedes-Benz F-125 Concept Bridges Hybrid and Hydrogen

The Mercedes-Benz F-125 concept unveiled here this week is one of those vehicles that give auto salons a reason for being.

It is a dream car. And dreaming of a gilded future for automobiles, and those who drive them, is what these shows are about.

According to Mercedes, the F-125 suggests what an automobile might look like in the year 2025, and what might propel it. Projecting that far ahead in this industry is chancy. When one thinks back 14 years in time, only a Nostradamus-caliber prophet could have foreseen our current world of iDevices, C.G.I. movies, Segway scooters, Mars Rovers and an electric Nissan, to say nothing of an African-American President of the United States.

Perhaps, when 2025 actually rolls around, we’ll look back on the F-125 as an eccentric flight of fancy, little more than a quaint notion — like Ford’s 1958 design study for the Nucleon, a car that would have been powered by an onboard nuclear reactor.

But Mercedes-Benz is willing, perhaps even eager, to go out on a limb here, claiming vehicles should look even more sleek, sensuous and desirable, like the F-125, no matter what government safety, emissions and fuel economy regulations may be thrown their way.

Such vehicles, Mercedes posits, will be capable of ranging 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) or more between fill-ups of hydrogen, which would be pumped through fuel cells to produce the energy that would turn electric drive motors at each wheel. This would be supplemented by a plug-in hybrid system, with lightweight lithium-sulfur batteries capable of giving the F-125 50 km (31 miles) of purely electric range. Semiautonomous telematics systems would help take over some of the driving duties from humans: changing lanes, passing other cars and crawling unassisted through heavy traffic.

The F-125 would be constructed of materials so light — carbon fiber, aluminum, advanced plastics and rare-earth elements — that it might seem able to gracefully spread its wings and fly away.