• Sep 12th 2006 at 11:13AM
  • 16
The race is on to build an uncompromised example of sustainable mobility, and BMW has thrown its hat into the ring with the new Hydrogen 7 set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Based on the BMW 7-Series, the Hydrogen 7 features a dual-mode drive that allows its 12-cylinder engine to run on either hydrogen or conventional premium gasoline. On either fuel the motor produces 260 horsepower, which provides a decent 0-62 mph time of 9.5 seconds. While your standard 7-Series owner would scoff at these numbers, environmentalists used to a passing at a glacial pace in their EV kit cars should be thrilled.

Recognizing that a true hydrogen infrastructure is decades off, BMW decided to go with this unique dual-mode drive system that increases the car's range to a combined 400 miles. There are two fuel storage tanks on board, a 19.5-gallon reservoir for gasoline that lasts for about 300 miles, and another tank that stores 17.6 lbs. of liquid hydrogen. On hydrogen alone the Hydrogen 7 can travel 125 miles, and will then switch automatically over to gasoline. The driver also has the ability to switch between fuels via a button on the steering wheel, but the car itself will give priority to the hydrogen until it's gone.

(More info, high resolution pics and BMW's complete press release after the jump)

[Source: BMW, Winding Road]

What's truly unique about the Hydrogen 7 is that it's not a one-off experiment. The car was vetted through the same Product Development Process your 3-Series, X5 or Z4 had to endure. BMW will actually build 100 examples of the Hydrogen 7 next year and the cars will be delivered to regions around the world that actually have hydrogen refilling stations available. Winding Road reports these to be Berlin, Munich, Beijing, Japan (maybe), Brussels (maybe, again), the UK, Italy (two more maybes) and California. We should expect the bulk of Hydrogen 7 sedans coming to the U.S. to be in California, as a matter of fact. The sedan has no MSRP, as select V.I.P. dealers will be leasing them out for weeks to months at a time to highly valued customers. The point is this experiment is for BMW to cull as much feedback from these lease owners as possible, as the Hydrogen 7's dual-mode drive system is able to be used in other BMW vehicles, as well.

Many other automakers have hydrogen vehicles in the works, be they of the fuel-cell or internal combustion variety. While BMW can't claim it will be the first to sell a hydrogen powered vehicle (that distinction goes to Ford), this will be this first hydrogen-powered passenger car designed with the mass market in mind. Sure, there's still the infrastructure issue and the question of whether or not the process used to produce the hydrogen was clean, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the fruit of many R&D efforts is beginning to pay off with actual product.

Press release:

BMW Introduces World's First Hydrogen-Drive Luxury Performance car – The BMW Hydrogen 7

Munich/Los Angeles, CA (September 12, 2006)...BMW today announced the introduction of the new BMW Hydrogen 7, the world's first hydrogen-drive luxury performance automobile. The car – a vehicle that has undergone the regular Product Development Process – will be built in a limited series in Europe and driven in the US and other countries by selected users in 2007. It is equipped with an internal combustion engine capable of running either on hydrogen or on gasoline and based on the BMW 7 Series.

Hydrogen technology dramatically reduces emissions generated by personal transport and, in particular, minimizes the emission of CO2. Running in the hydrogen mode, the BMW Hydrogen 7 essentially emits nothing but vapor. And, unlike fossil fuels and traditional gasoline, hydrogen is available in virtually infinite supply. With the BMW Hydrogen 7, the BMW Group is laying down a marker for sustainable mobility. This car will play a pioneering role in driving forward hydrogen technologies. BMW has gained an excellent reputation for significantly reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by using ultra efficient, yet very dynamic gasoline engines. Together with clean performance diesel cars and the technologically advanced hybrid systems currently under development within the BMW EfficientDynamics project, the BMW Group has a clear strategy for sustainable mobility with hydrogen as the ultimate goal.

With all the comforts and amenities of a non-hydrogen BMW 7 Series, the BMW Hydrogen 7 is powered by a 260 hp twelve-cylinder engine and accelerates from 0–62.1 mph in 9.5 seconds. Top speed is limited electronically to 143 mph. The BMW Hydrogen 7 also features a dual-mode power unit – controlled at the touch of a button – that can switch quickly and conveniently from hydrogen to conventional premium gasoline.

The car's dual-mode drive provides an overall cruising range of more than 400 miles and enables the driver of a BMW Hydrogen 7 to enjoy virtually unlimited mobility, even when far away from the nearest hydrogen filling station. This technology is a viable solution until the hydrogen infrastructure is fully developed.

BMW CleanEnergy: paving the way into the future.
The BMW Hydrogen 7 perfectly captures the essence of the BMW CleanEnergy strategy. By using hydrogen produced from water and renewable energy, such as wind, sun or hydropower, in an internal combustion engine, the car's emissions in hydrogen mode are essentially nothing but vapor. And, with this emitted water vapor, the cycle can start again and the dream of sustainable mobility without using fossil fuel resources and without impacting the earth's climate can become a reality. The complete change from a fossil fuel infrastructure to a hydrogen economy will require decades, but with the Hydrogen 7, BMW shows that bringing hydrogen technology to the road is indeed feasible.

BMW Hydrogen 7: Industrializing hydrogen technologies.
The BMW Hydrogen 7 has successfully completed the entire Product Development Process (PDP) obligatory for all new BMWs. In this process, all components of the new technology were integrated into the overall vehicle according to the same challenging criteria applied to "regular" production vehicles. The BMW Hydrogen 7 is not a hand made concept car, but rather, a milestone in industrializing hydrogen technologies for automotive use.

The knowledge gained in the PDP has not only made a decisive contribution to the everyday driving qualities of the BMW Hydrogen 7, but it will also significantly impact the development and production of future hydrogen vehicle concepts, with the principle of dual-mode drive and the features of other components now going through the strict test of everyday driving practice.

Dual-mode combustion engine for enhanced flexibility.
While cruising range is a significant consideration to consumers in any car, BMW recognizes that it is of critical importance in a hydrogen-powered vehicle, because there is not yet a full network of hydrogen filling stations in the United States.
For precisely this reason, the BMW Hydrogen 7 features dual-mode drive technology and a combustion engine capable of running on both hydrogen and gasoline. The cruising range in the hydrogen mode is more than 125 miles, with another 300 miles in the gasoline mode. Thus, the driver of a BMW Hydrogen 7 is able to use the vehicle without problem even when the nearest hydrogen filling station is far away.
The BMW Hydrogen 7 clearly proves that liquid hydrogen may by all means be used as a source of energy for the production car. By introducing the BMW Hydrogen 7, the BMW Group establishes powerful momentum for the ongoing development of a supply infrastructure serving above all to set up additional hydrogen filling stations providing sustained mobility on a broad basis also in the future.

Two tanks: Smooth transitions and maximum cruise range.
To offer the longest conceivable cruising range, the BMW Hydrogen 7 comes with both a conventional 74-litre (16.3 Imp gal) gasoline tank and an additional fuel tank taking up approximately 8 kilos or 17.6 lb of liquid hydrogen. Stored in a high tech tank, liquid hydrogen offers significant advantages in energy density enhancing the cruising range of the hydrogen car.
The driver is able to switch from hydrogen to gasoline mode manually by pressing a button on the multifunction steering wheel. Because engine power and torque remain exactly the same regardless of the mode of operation, switching from one mode to another has no effect on the driving behavior and performance of the BMW Hydrogen 7.
The control system in BMW Hydrogen 7 gives priority to the use of hydrogen. And, should one of the two types of fuel be fully consumed, the system will automatically switch over to the other type of fuel in the interest of secure, ongoing supply.

Luxury class comfort for four.
The BMW Hydrogen 7 is a four-seater with the two passengers at the rear enjoying the same high standard of comfort as in one of BMW's "regular" luxury performance vehicles.

The BMW Hydrogen 7 comes with an unusually wide range of standard features. In addition to the high level of equipment featured from the start in the BMW 760i, the BMW Hydrogen 7 comes inter alia with climate comfort composite glazing, BMW's high-end automatic air conditioning, auxiliary heating, electric seat heating for the driver, front passenger and rear seats, lumbar supports, electric seat adjustment with memory function on the front seats, ISOFIX child seat fastenings, Park Distance Control, a rain sensor, exterior and interior mirrors with automatic anti-dazzle, Soft Close Automatic for the doors and a headlight assistant. A complete entertainment and communication package adds to the comfort a BMW 7 Series can provide.

Progress without compromises.
BMW Hydrogen 7 emphatically proves that changing over to an alternative form of energy doesn't mean missing out on superior driving dynamics and comfort. The departure from fossil fuel does not in any way mean giving up the dynamics and performance typical of a BMW. Mobility of tomorrow and driving pleasure of today are compatible, with the drive concept of BMW Hydrogen 7 being directly transferable to future models. Driving a car of this caliber will be just as thrilling in the future as it is today, but at the same time cleaner than ever before.

BMW Group: "Sustainability. It can be done."
Sustainable action and corporate success belong together. With this clear commitment, the BMW Group has integrated sustainability as part of its corporate strategy for many years and takes responsibility for its products throughout their entire life cycle – from production to end-of-life recycling. The BMW CleanEnergy strategy aims to create a sustainable future for individual mobility independent of fossil fuels. With BMW EfficientDynamics, the company enhances fuel economy with every new product while still offering the customer the best in class performance.
With recycling-optimized product design and life cycle assessment, BMW is helping to reduce the impact on the environment. The use of benchmark technologies in its clean production program significantly reduces the consumption of water and energy during the production process. There are many examples of the advantages of adhering to BMW's mantra, "Sustainability. It can be done." The benefits are enjoyed by not only the company and its associates, but also the environment and, most importantly, the customer. To learn more about BMW Group and sustainability, please visit www.bmwgroup.com/sustainability.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Greg A.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "And, unlike fossil fuels and traditional gasoline, hydrogen is available in virtually infinite supply."

      Sure, we just have to figure out how to economically "mine" that hydrogen using energy sources other than fossil fuels, that's all.

      By the way, that sentence should read, "unlike traditional gasoline and other fossil fuels..."
      • 9 Years Ago
      Curious how envy get people when they see other's success!... BMW Hydrogen is the only alternative for the medium and long term since it removes the dependency on the fosil fuels and only requires hydrogen that only requires electric energy. This is not the last engine on hydrogen so that improvements are on their way! Look to the cars and airplanes of the begining of the 20 century!
      As for the Ford hydrogen vechicle, sorry, it is important who got it running, not who comes with ideas!

      ( thanks, Argodelmar, some people is frustrated when the oil / fosil use is threatened! )
      • 9 Years Ago
      To #1:
      No.. at least with natural gas vehicles no explosions have ever occured. Reason is that the gas evaporates more or less immediately after a crash..
      • 9 Years Ago
      Development funds for hydrogen fueled reciprocating engines need to be cut NOW! This is a waste of engineering resources. Hydrogen can be put to much better use.

      Create a gasoline fuel cell and I'll be impressed.
      • 9 Years Ago
      So is there some sort of German equivalent of the CAFE flex fuel loophole or did they go through all of this trouble just for PR? It's not even good PR. Anyone with a bit of understanding of green transportation will spot many problems here:

      1 - Hydrogen currently can not be refined without using lots of energy that comes from other sources. If these sources are "traditional" then the hydrogen is perpetuating environmental damage. If these sources are clean then why not use them to power cars directly?

      2 - Burning hydrogen in an internal combustion type engine is the worst realistic option for using it as a fuel. It's inefficient, has all of the same packaging constraints as a conventional piston engine, and necessitates lots of moving parts (compared to say, a fuel cell).

      3 - Short of using SUVs, the largest car BMW makes is the worst candidate for reducing environmental impact. 300 miles on 19.5 US gallons? That's 15.4 miles per gallon! I have a 1977 320i that gets 21mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. They call that 30 years of progress?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the hydrogen 7 is a great idea.
      First of all, everyone who is complaining that making hydrogen pollutes more than the cars will save is thinking very provincially. In the future, producing hydrogen will not require coal and crude oils. There will be a time when we can say that hydrogen cars are saving the environment. At least BMW is thinking ahead. As much as I hate European cars, other car companies and people are out of their mind if they think they can increase gas mileage to solve our environmental problems. There will be a time when we need cars that produce virtually no emissions. As for electric and fuel cell vehicles, they are weak. Internal combustion engines have an ineffable vibe to them that cannot be replaced by an electric or fuel cell motor. So if you think hydrogen cars are a bad idea you can go buy an electric or fuel cell vehicle, but don't complain when you have to drive a weak POS to work everyday.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Will Corbin Bernsen be filling up my Hydrogen 7, too? http://www.autoblog.com/media/2006/09/p0027937.jpg
      • 9 Years Ago
      Powered by the universe... amazing.
      • 9 Years Ago
      That motor is an enormous feat of (german) engineering. I actually think that this is a better idea than hybrids or fuel-cell hydrogen cars, not to mention bio-diesel or ethanol.
      Cudos to BMW.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Some of you are correct and some of you need a little more clarification. No problem… and thank you John for you factual portrayal.

      H2 is not always H2. And LH2 is a whole different animal. And of course, Hybrid is not Hydrogen.
      H2 can be stored in a gaseous form under pressure or at ambient temperature without pressure. Because H2’s energy density, it take up a lot of space to get the same bang for your buck (or volume) as petroleum. GH2 under high pressure is more dangerous than LH2 in many ways. LH2 is usually stored at low pressure ~ 3-6 bar (less than a champagne bottle which has 7 bar). When released into an ambient environment, it dissipates almost immediately without much risk of explosion so long there are no ignition sources in the area. H2 under pressure (the industry’s current standard is ~ 300 bar, while some research is attempting to reach close to 700 bar) is more volatile due to the inherent explosive factor and subsequent ignition source of a container under extreme pressure. Tests done on CGH2 show it to be a safe substance under the right precautions. Road accidents and crash testing will prove this to be true or false.
      LH2 on the other hand is very hard to handle because is must always be kept cold -253C°. Above this temperature, LH2 begins to boil and expand. As an example Gaseous H2 is ~ 830 times more voluminous than LH2. This means that with LH2, the BMW Hydrogen 7 gets better range than it would if it used GH2 and the tank would need to be much larger than it is today.
      Hybrid is only the inevitable electrification of the internal combustion engine, just like carburetors were phased out, an electrical motor will be phased in. It’s nothing more spectacular than that. Manufacturers have different approaches. BMW has a holistic approach rather than a piece meal one like some.
      The Hydrogen 7 is a stepping stone and a bridge to a new type of energy carrier (H2 is not an energy source, but rather a storage for energy released or collected from another source (sun, wind, geo-thermal, nuclear, …). Unfortunately, most of the worlds H2 is produce from fossil fuels.
      The GM Model is a far reaching concept, which will perhaps in the distant future be a replacement for some modes of transportation like the ICE (internal combustion engine) powered personal vehicle. But it will remain to be seen how technology develops. FC’s need to withstand horrendous conditions as ICE’s do today. Unfortunately, experts believe this will be a long road until FC’s are far enough along to replace your average car. Heavy industry is also a major question mark.
      The BMW concept is, as I mentioned, a bridge to the future. The Bi-Fuel concept allows a driver to drive in either mode, depending on fuel availability. Of course it will take some time for the costly infrastructure to develop, but as it does organically, like the petroleum business, the vehicle can run more and more on H2. The FC model from GM can’t do that, which is, realistically speaking, its major downfall in 2006. In 2020, this could be a different story. We will have to wait and see.
      The BMW Hydrogen 7 is obviously not a redeveloped or completely new developed vehicle. It looks like the LH2 technology way squeezed into the vehicles original package, which is very clever. This way, BMW can save millions in R&D costs and is avoiding any major risks of developing a car that no one wants and being stuck with very costly initial costs like a new production facility or expensive tooling.
      The FC and the H2-ICE story will continue to be exciting to watch. It is important to remember that if the industry moves too fast or is mandated by government to eliminate CO2 before the technology is viable or the infrastructure is available, billions will need to be spent for retraining and revamping or the current production facilities and well as suppliers in the ICE world we know today. The industry will be bankrupt and we will not need to care about the silly quips above. We will be back to living in urban areas, riding bicycles and horses before you know it.
      And to MK2, Ford was not first to "market" since niether vehicles are being sold. BMW built the first H2 ICE concept 30 years ago. I guess this make BMW the pioneer and the rest are following suit. It really doesn't matter. What does matter is that global warming is real and fossil fuels are becoming more scarce. We all should welcome and support this and other technologies, no matter where they come from.

      • 9 Years Ago
      What is missing from the press information is that the hydrogen evaporates in 9 days!! How would you like to lose 1/9th of your expensive fill-up every day? This whole car is highly compromised. BMW is indulging in PR bling on a large scale.
      • 9 Years Ago
      BMW propaganda machine springs into action. hydrogen is the new BMW angel ready to bring peace happiness, joy and untold pleasures in your life.

      BMW 7 run on hydrogen will solve all the pollution and environment problems for you and bring fresh air and water right to your door. Thats the idea BMW propaganda machine wants you to eat and be influenced by.

      How far can your BMW 7-series go on H2: 125 miles.

      Where does this hydrogen come from: Not from your dad's carefully manicured garden, thats for sure.

      It comes, hold your breadth, by burning coal and crude oil.

      One wonders, how much more fraud are we ready to absorb. And how much lower will the propaganda machine stoop before the gullible news readers realize its just brain-washing and nothing else.
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