Autocar UK published yesterday an article on BMW’s unveiling of their latest hydrogen hybrid drivetrain. While the UK magazine doesn’t mention the source nor the place of this unveiling, we can only assume that these news revolve around the press release published by BMW Technik in which a reference to a 1 Series hydrogen hybrid is being made.
Based on this, Autocar takes it a step further mentioning that the hydrogen hybrid drivetrain could be used by the next-generation MINI and the front-wheel drive BMW planned for 2014-2015.
As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the system combines a conventional front-drive powertrain along with a hydrogen fuel cell, electricity-storing supercapacitors and an electrically driven rear axle.
The Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle uses a four-cylinder gasoline engine, a fuel cell and electric drivetrain. It all start with relatively normal 120 horsepower four-cylinder gasoline engine. The rear-drive system is still there, but only operated by an electric motor. This unit gets its energy from some very powerful capacitors and fuel cell. The fuel cell converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, and recharges the batteries. The capacitors temporarily store electricity from the fuel. During acceleration, they can provide a great amount of energy. The energy coming from braking gets stored as well.
This drivetrain will fit into today’s MINI Clubman, turning this technology into a highly probable candidate for the FWD BMW and MINI models that are at least 4 meters long.
To control the speculations, Autocar mentions that the fuel-cell hybrid has not yet been given the green light by BMW board of directors and that the future of this is solely based on financial planning and sufficient sales.
Here is a further explanation by Autocar:
The system works by having two independent methods of driving the car. In the prototype, a conventional transverse Mini drivetrain powers the front wheels. Mounted behind the engine is the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), a slim fuel cell that develops just 5kW.
The electricity generated by the APU is supplied to the capacitors, which are mounted in the centre tunnel. They drive the 82kW electric motor on the rear axle.
When in electric mode the car is driven by the rear wheels. When in petrol mode the car is driven by the front wheels. The two powerplants can work together, though, to deliver short bursts of high acceleration.
BMW says that it can see a future when certain areas of city centres will demand vehicles that have zero local CO2 emissions and zero levels of pollutants.