Why Did BMW Really Stop Making the Hydrogen 7 Model?

7-series, Interesting | August 17th, 2016 by 10
bmw hydrogen 7 4 750x500

Recently I stumbled upon a piece of news that claimed hydrogen powered cars have already covered a million miles in the US. The news came …

Recently I stumbled upon a piece of news that claimed hydrogen powered cars have already covered a million miles in the US. The news came from First Element that did the math and estimated that at least 1 million miles were covered in hydrogen powered cars in the US so far, judging by how much of the ‘fuel’ was sold so far. This got me thinking about the Hydrogen 7 model, a car BMW brought out back in the late 2000s.

In case you don’t remember, the E65/66 7 Series had a version that used hydrogen instead of petrol or diesel to get around. It was only built in 100 units and was presented as a sort of experiment to the public, to show that hydrogen can be really be used on passenger cars. The remarkable thing about this vehicle was that it was actually using an internal combustion engine that burned hydrogen instead of getting energy from it via fuel cells.

bmw hydrogen 7 11 750x562

The Hydrogen 7 was based on the 760Li model and featured two tanks: one for hydrogen and one for gasoline. The 6-liter V12 engine under the hood was modified so that it could use both fuels. Unfortunately, the efficiency the car had on hydrogen was extremely low, returning about 5.6 mpg (50 l/100km) on average, mostly due to the difference in energy density between petrol and hydrogen. Even so, the green character of the car was evident as CO2 emissions were eliminated completely.

While BMW claimed the emissions to be zero, even if for just about 200 km (125 miles) due to the small hydrogen tank and low mpg ratings, the EPA didn’t agree, according to recent findings. Even though nothing was mentioned publicly when these events happened, the US regulators said that the engine used on the prototypes the Germans made was still an ICE unit and therefore used lubrication, which, in turn, meant that small particles of oil could still end up in the combustion chamber. Thus, the Hydrogen 7 was not recognized as an emission free vehicle when using solely hydrogen.

hydrogen road tour bmw zentrum 16 august 2008 copy 107 500x322

Apparently, even though this sort of engine could’ve been built alongside traditional ones on assembly lines around the world, BMW was so disappointed in how the EPA saw their experiment that they dropped the whole thing. Of course, hurdles such as the lack of infrastructure were also a contributing factor but as we see fuel-cell vehicles step into the limelight these days, we’re also seeing these recurring themes showing up. The infrastructure issues weren’t solved to this day and even though the new approach towards using hydrogen as fuel does seem even more eco-friendly, the pause BMW took in terms of research definitely didn’t help.

Today, the Germans are working with Toyota to develop new means of transportation that can use hydrogen without such issues. However, no matter how good a fuel-cell car will be it can’t match up to an internal combustion engine in terms of feel. And that’s why the Hydrogen 7 was special. Sure, it didn’t get great mpg ratings but it used hydrogen and nobody really cared. On the other hand, unlike fuel-cell cars, it could be revved, there was an exhaust sound to listen to and you could feel alive behind its wheel.

10 responses to “Why Did BMW Really Stop Making the Hydrogen 7 Model?”

  1. the dude says:

    Hydrogen is a joke and will never make it in the real world, the basic physics just won’t allow it to happen

    Pure EV and plug in hybrid is the way to go, the i8 is the proof

    • green.future says:

      What “basic physics” are you referring to?

      • the dude says:

        The production of “green” Hydrogen is a waste of electricity, producing Hydrogen from natural gas is also a bad idea, storing Hydrogen is difficult and dangerous, from start to finish its just a bad idea, just look at what BMW did with the i8, far better than any Hydrogen powered car, and thats just the start, the next i8 will be even better

        ignore Hydrogen its a joke

        • cleverle says:

          Hydrogen is not a joke, it is the furture when natural gas runs out so in about 300 to 500 years. The i8 is one of the real existing running gags, as all other today available elctric vehicles with a battery for major use of a car.

        • TG64 says:

          You don’t now much? Hydrogen can be made by solarenergy and water but the hole oilindustri dosent like that of course! And safety solutions is alredy aveylybe! Exuse my spelling…

  2. green.future says:

    Just want to point out that the 1 Million miles is just from the last few months from just the Hydrogen stations that First Element has built.

    Other automakers have collectively reached ~15 million miles of fuel cell vehicles.

    Daimler has 7.46 million miles racked up – http://www.autoblog.com/2016/06/13/mercedes-benz-glc-plug-in-hydrogen-fuel-cell-coming-in-2017/

    GM Fuel cell fleet tops 3M miles (may 2014) http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2014/May/0507-fuel-cell.html?version=meter+at+null&module=meter-Links&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click

    Hyundai Tucson over 2 million miles of road testing – https://www.hyundaiusa.com/tucsonfuelcell/index.aspx

    Toyota more than one million miles testing of prototypes – http://www.postcrescent.com/story/money/cars/2016/03/30/2016-toyota-mirai-features-fuel-cell-prototype/82383454/

    Ford – more than 1.3 million test miles http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-honda-clarity-fuel-cell-price-20160121-story.html

  3. R2 says:

    the thing everyone is missing is that HYDROGEN (specifically in reference to the H7 Project @ BMW) is potentially able to convert and leverage existing production [internal combustion] vehicles without forcing everyone to purchase entirely new vehicles/technology out of the gate – which portends a HUGE cutover/conversion cost for most people and companies/corporations … admittedly, internal combustion vehicles are far less EFFICIENT than FCVs that are designed for hydrogen, but it provides a BRIDGE for moving over without incurring a 100% (or more!) pure cost premium for converting over … i believe that BMW’s H7 model could ACCELERATE the adoption of hydrogen as a viable alternative green fuel source – particularly if manufacturers and government would cooperate to provide service kits and incentives to consumers that would allow and encourage them to convert existing late model vehicles to run on hydrogen – and in particular, enabling them to switch between hydrogen and gasoline (in keeping with the H7 prototype) when/as needed, particularly for longer trips outside of an urban setting … then, over time, the internal combustion technology would phase out as people purchase new FCVs to replace them for higher efficiency …

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  5. […] автомобили еще не были так актуальны. В-четвертых, ходили упорные слухи, что Агентство по охране окружающей среды США не […]

  6. […] автомобили еще не были так актуальны. В-четвертых, ходили упорные слухи, что Агентство по охране окружающей среды США не […]

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