The Mercedes-Benz NEBUS O 405 N – the “New Electric Bus” introduced in 1997 – introduces fuel cell technology to the commercial vehicle sector for the very first time. The hydrogen fuel supply is stored in seven fibreglass-encased aluminium tanks on the roof. One tank of fuel can cover 250 kilometres, which is sufficient to meet the everyday workload of an urban bus. In 2003, the first 30 fuel cell-powered urban buses rated to 150 kW (204 PS) enter service in European cities; similarly equipped buses are subsequently found all over the world. In 2001, Mercedes-Benz uses the Sprinter as a fuel cell variant (55 kW / 75 PS, 120 km/h, range 150 km) to showcase the technology as deployed in a van.
2005 sees Mercedes-Benz unveil the F 600 research vehicle HYGENIUS (85 kW / 115 PS, 140 km/h, range 400 km) at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show. The new fuel cell is 40 per cent smaller than in previous systems, yet it is significantly more efficient and powerful.