Mercedes Benz officially opened its fuel cell stack production plant in Burnaby on Thursday.
The 3,300-square metre facility at North Fraser Way will employ 50 people, according to company spokesperson Michael Minnielly.
The facility's graduated test and commissioning phase is underway, a press release from the company stated, and the first automated fuel cell stack was produced there on June 7.
A small series production of next-generation fuel cell stacks is expected to start in 2013.
The company hopes to put fuel cell vehicles into commercial production in Burnaby by 2016.
The fuel cell stacks have a high energy output and are efficient and very compact, a previous release stated.
The stacks produced in Burnaby could be used in sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or E-Class.
In February 2008, the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation was founded in Burnaby as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz' parent company Daimler AG, Ford and Ballard.
It is a facility for researching and developing fuel cell technology.
The aim of the new facility is to cover the entire scope of fuel cell development and production in Burnaby, JoAnne Caza, director of marketing and public relations for the company, said in a previous interview with the NOW.
Mercedes-Benz has about 200 fuel cell-powered vehicles on the road in the United States and Europe, according to Caza.
It is the first generation of personal fuel cell-powered travel, she said.
"We're getting a lot of feedback," she said, describing it as a research bed.
The challenge is that Canada does not have an infrastructure for fueling the vehicles yet, she explained.
"This is the future of mobility," she said of fuel cell energy. "We have to sensitize people to the fact that these are long-range vehicles."
There are fueling stations for commercial vehicles such as buses in the Lower Mainland, she said, but not public fueling stations as of yet.
But, she pointed, out it will be a while before the company has enough supply for that infrastructure, anyway.
"If the infrastructure was there tomorrow, would we be ready for it?" Caza said. "No."
Daimler AG is also subleasing just over 1,900 square metres of space at the Ballard Power Systems facility for fuel cell production from August 2011 until July 31, 2019, according to a press release from Ballard.
Mercedes-Benz Canada is headquartered in Toronto, Ont.