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The hydrogen-powered GLC makes its debut.

The production-bound Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell crossover has made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The fuel-cell plugin hybrid is a first for production-ready mainstream models, and obviously a first for Mercedes-Benz.

You read that correctly. This isn't simply a hydrogen-powered car; it's a plug-in hybrid. Like a gasoline-powered example, it can be filled up and charged up, giving owners the opportunity to run on battery reserves topped off via an outlet rather than operating on expensive compressed hydrogen.

F-Cell's electric drive system produces 197 horsepower. It can operate in true hybrid mode, F-Cell mode (almost exclusively hydrogen), battery mode and charge mode (equivalent to "regen" mode in most conventional BEV/hybrd vehicles). Its EV operation range is 49 km (30 miles) and its total combined range on a 4.4-kilogram hydrogen fill is 270 miles.

The company has been secretly developing the GLC F-Cell for the past two years, traveling to the likes of Spain, Sweden, and Germany, both on public roads and on private test tracks. Mercedes-Benz has been quite proud of that development process, going to great lengths to document it:

The GLC F-Cell looks almost identical to the standard gasoline-powered GLC on which it's based. It receives model-specific trim on the front fascia, right above the rocker panels, and on the rear bumper. It will take a well-trained eye to tell the hydrogen-powered model apart from a regular GLC.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell will enter production shortly after the end of the show, but it's too early to tell whether it will be sold in the United States.