BMW will begin testing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the near future.
The new generation of BMW hydrogen cars are currently under development, with the technology being co-developed with Toyota. In particular, packaging of the fuel cell stack and hydrogen storage are said to have advanced significantly in recent years.
BMW has first ran a trial of hydrogen-powered vehicles back in 2007 with a 7 Series V12 6.9 liter engine. At time, the car managed to output 256 hp and 290 lb of torque, and hit 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds. b ft, the cars hit 62mph in 9.5secs.
Ian Robertson, BMW Board member for marketing and sales, says that the company will continue to invest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles but the challenges around infrastructure might not support the launch of a production vehicle.
“We’ve said we’ll continue to invest in hydrogen and that will result in a small number of production test vehicles being made to prove technology works,” said Robertson. “The real issues lie not around what we can do, though, but whether the infrastructure can be built up to supply hydrogen in the marketplace cost-effectively.”
Robertson also suggest that the rapid advancement of battery technology could instead favor electric vehicles. Advances in lithium ion technology are set to be followed by a switch to lithium air and then solid state batteries. These advances over the next ten years could “see charging time and range worries disappear” according to Robertson.
The sales chief also says that in the future investment in internal combustion engine technology could be switched to battery and electric motor advances. “At some point in the future the technologies will switch over,” he said. “When the crossover comes and the focus becomes electricity, the rate of learning will accelerate even faster,” he said. “Relatively, that time is not far away.”
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BMW had plans to unveil a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle concept at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, but we have learned that those plans were canceled and the concept might debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.