While the interest in hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles has waned lately, due mostly to media’s attention centering on the latest generation of battery powered electric cars and plug-in hybrids, several automakers including industry giant Daimler are still backing their cause.

Just a few years ago it seemed that fuel cell vehicles were going to dominate the auto industry when it came to green cars, and there are still many that believe they will be the key to ending our dependence on oil in the longer term.

One of the leaders in the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is Mercedes-Benz, which is already leasing a fleet of its B-Class F-Cell fuel cell vehicles and recently took three of them on a global drive program.

The amazing reliability of the vehicles proved to Mercedes-Benz that the technology is ready for the mass-market so now the automaker is accelerating plans to launch a high-volume model, bringing forward the launch date from 2015 to 2014.

This high-volume model will likely be based on the next-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class and has been confirmed to have a driving range of 250 miles.

The information was revealed by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche at a special presentation in New York this week.

You may recall that Daimler recently announced the development of its own hydrogen fuel cell stack and plans to start building them at a new plant in Vancouver, Canada by 2013.

Fuel cell vehicles, which convert hydrogen to usable electric power and emits only water, can already drive several hundred miles on a single tank. The only problem is finding a hydrogen fuel station to fill up in the first place.

[Inside Line]