Ask any automotive photographer what is the smelliest part of the car shoot and they’ll tell you that car to car tracking shots are right up there. I spend a significant slice of my working life strapped into the luggage area of cars, tailgate fixed in the open position, staring out at the subject car, camera held often one handed in a variety of positions, from high overhead to way down low skimming the track surface to achieve that car to car tracking shot.
And all the while I’m being slowly gassed. Because the exhaust of our camera platform is just a few inches from my head for most of this session, the relatively slow road speed meaning that I sit in a bubble of swirling emissions. And while modern cars are more efficient than ever, there’s no getting away from the taste of petrol, or worse still diesel fumes in your mouth once the shots are done and you climb out to stretch your legs. Step into the shower back at base and I’m often surprised at the grime that falls off me.
So if we had a camera car that didn’t gas me, but instead had a glass of pure water waiting for me when we were done, then that would be a pretty cool thing. Well it’s looking like in 2017, I’ll have my wish. The Mercedes Benz B-Class F-Cell is the first hydrogen fuel cell car to be produced using series production methods. This means that the fleet of 200 cars that having been driving in Europe and North America are not hand built prototypes, but cars that could actually be put into mass production. The electricity required for driving is generated on board the car in a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. With a range of some 400 kilometres and short refuelling times of less than three minutes, the B-Class F-CELL combines emission-free mobility with feasibility for use on long journeys and good performance.
As for the glass of water I’d like aty the end of my shoots, take a look at the video Mercedes Benz just created showing Hollywood stars Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson driving across Death Valley. No packs of mineral water in the cooler on the back seat. Just a container attached to the rear and connected to the exhaust, capturing the emissions of the F-Cell – nothing but pure water. And that’s the water the pair survived on while driving in Death Valley. They’ve both been F-Cell drivers for more than a year now and have become utter converts. “We’ve become absolute fans of the fuel cell. The car is so easy to use. On a day-to-day basis our normal mobility isn’t restricted at all – and we had no water problems in Death Valley either”, says Diane.
As ever, infrastructure for refuelling will be key, but the logistics of this are no more difficult than conventional fuels. And with refuelling times of just three minutes, it’s no different to fuelling up a gasoline powered machine.
I’m becoming fascinated by Mercedes Benz F-Cell technology and want to know more, much more. Is this really a car that I can drive for 400km, shoot those car to car tracking shots with a clear head, then not need to buy those expensive bottles of water when I fuel up for the drive home? In 2017, I’ll be able to.
This post has been sponsored by Mercedes Benz, but all thoughts are our own. More details on F Cell technology on their website.
Words by Neill Watson, photography Mercedes Benz