BMW interested in building a hydrogen-electric prototype racecar

Racing | April 16th, 2018 by 7
BMW i8 hydrogen fuel cell images 14 750x500

In a recent interview with Motorsport, BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt has hinted that the company could one day return to the prototype ranks at the Le Mans 24 Hours with a car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

“It would be a technology to consider for a race application in endurance racing and it is something we could look at in the future from a prototype point of view,” BMW Motorsport boss  Jens Marquardt told Motorsport.

BMW i8 hydrogen fuel cell images 20 750x499

Marquardt also said BMW had been in discussion with the FIA and ACO, trying to lay the groundwork for a hydrogen-electric Le Mans entry sometime in the near future. Such an entry would likely claim the ‘Garage 56’ entry in the race – a slot that is reserved for experimental or highly innovative race cars.

“We did a concept study to check if it is possible or not, and we came to the conclusion that with a few constraints it is feasible,” explained Marquardt, who said that developments in fuel-cell technology could remove those constraints as early as 2024.

“But to go into an environment like Garage 56 only makes sense when you also see that technology also happening on the road in two, three or five years.

“At some stage fuel-cell technology will be relevant to the road, but the timing of when it is going to happen is something we will have to see.”

“We talked to (the FIA and ACO) about fuel cells,” he said. “This will continue; we are not closed.”

Pierre Fillon, president of ACO, said he wants it to be possible to race at Le Mans for 24 hours without burning any fossil fuels in under ten years.

“We have a clear goal: from 2024 it should be possible to drive completely CO2-neutral at Le Mans — and that is only possible with certain technologies,” Fillon said, referencing hydrogen.

BMW has previewed their last hydrogen developments three years ago on their testing grounds in Miramas, France, where we had the chance to drive a 5 Series Gran Turismo fitted with an electro-hydrogen drivetrain.

Until then, BMW is returning to Le Mans this year with their new BMW M8 GTE.

7 responses to “BMW interested in building a hydrogen-electric prototype racecar”

  1. Anon says:


    Battery electric is the only reasonable alternative to fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

    Building out a hydrogen fueling infrastructure in every major world market would be very expensive and without it the market for consumer hydrogen vehicles is very limited.

    • EH says:

      In what way is a battery electric an alternative to the combustion engine in an endurance racing application? Not only are current batteries not capable of completing a reasonable stint length but we have no way to quickly re-energize the car.

      In terms of real estate alone the cost of rapid charging stations dwarfs that of retrofiting hydrogen to traditional gas stations.

      Not to mention every oil company in the world is looking for a reason to keep you at their gas stations once electric cars actually make an impact on fuel sales.

      • Anon says:

        Not talking about endurance racing in a vacuum. I’m wondering why BMW will waste hundreds of millions to develop a competitive fuel cell power train when they don’t have any plans to put that technology into a production car.

        • EH says:

          The beauty of endurance racing is that it doesn’t occur in a vacuum, Le Mans and sportscar racing are inextricably linked to performance and efficency breakthroughs throughout the history of the automobile. BMW have plans for a limited production fuel cell vehicle by 2021 and expanded availability by 2025.

        • disqus_8YchtRit8p says:

          Toyota, Daimler & the Koreans are all pursuing hydrogen production.

  2. CDspeed says:

    My next electric car won’t be a BMW…..

    • Matt Stokes says:

      That’s great and all, but how does it relate to possibility of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered Le Mans Prototype?

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