• Nov 14, 2006
BMW decided that it would do its hydrogen vehicle in a different way than most. Rather than building a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, BMW chose to stick with what it already knew well, internal combustion engines. Set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show at the end of this month, the resulting Hydrogen 7 uses a dual-mode drive that is driver selectable at the flip of a switch.

The 6-liter V-12 can run on either hydrogen or premium gasoline. It only produces 260 horsepower, but that's still enough to get it from 0-62 mph in less than 10 seconds. Using both the 19.5-gallon gas tank, and another tank that stores 17.6 lbs. of liquid hydrogen, the range is about 400 miles, or 125 on Hydrogen alone. If you run low on hydrogen, the computer will switch you over to gasoline automatically.

But you already knew most of this if you read our post on the Hydrogen 7 last month. Wired News just got their hands on one (lucky dogs), and did an excellent review of the experience, which is what brings the car to our attention again today. Follow the jump for more details and click the read link for the complete writeup.

[Source: Wired]

Basically it felt like what it is, a 7 Series packing an extra 550 pounds. A bit slower and softer because of the necessary hydrogen tank and cooling apparatus. Major hurdles in hydrogen storage and distribution remain, but having the option of running on gasoline is what makes this 7 a winner. You can run it as a normal gas-powered car until the infrastructure improves.

Although much cleaner than a gas engine, burning hydrogen isn't totally clean. This isn't a zero-emission vehicle, after all, but the bulk of the exhaust is water vapor, with CO2 and N2O levels are 1 to 30. Reducing costs, cooling and sourcing the hydrogen are also challenges to be met. Current methods of producing hydrogen actually generate MORE CO2 than a straight gas engine per mile. Switching to solar, wind and hydroelectric generation will help reduce that significantly.

The final, and scariest, issue with hydrogen is its perceived flammability. BMW assured the author that hydrogen is no more of a threat than gasoline and pointed out that the Hindenburg and Challenger disasters were not caused by the fuel. Sophisticated sensors are in place, both onboard and at the refueling stations, to shut down fuel flow when leaks or other problems are detected.

Further development and a larger infrastructure will help bring this type of experiment closer to reality. As a first step in the process, 100 Hydrogen 7s will be put into test fleet service next year. Drivers will likely be celebrities and politicians located near hydrogen fueling stations. We happen to know that Detroit and Los Angeles are quite well covered in that regard, although we wouldn't necessarily consider ourselves celebrities or politicians. We can hope though.


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  • 19 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      BJ honda has some of the finest engineers employed on this planet.

      The implication that the organization as a whole could not figure out how to spell a word says nothing except that you are yet another worthless troll.

      What's the difference between ricetrolls and eurotrolls? Nothing, really.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I want to know what mpg does this 5,000lbs monster get out of its V12 when running on normal petrol? 5mpg? And since there are like, 5 hydrogen stations around the world.......
      • 8 Years Ago
      I can't wait to pump my own -350+ degree liquid hydrogen gas at my own neighborhood gas station. In other news, does anyone know how to unfreeze a hand?

      Oh wait!

      In other news, I'm glad that in my neighborhood terrorists do not have something to target that would make a massive explosion.


      Anyway. This idea is just stupid. It will never work. It isn't a clean solution to the problem either. Burning hydrogen is nearly as bad on emissions as burning gas. The fuel range is a joke. You won't be able to refuel your own car while you turst robots to do it for you(with your life in their "hands" BTW). And you go ahead and trust a vehicle like this in a wreck on the highway. Mean while I don't plan on driving on the same roads as any liquid hydrogen power vehicle. Let along a tanker full of the stuff.
      • 8 Years Ago
      An earth friendly luxury car? That sounds perfect! We could use listings like this on www.luxurysearch.com The newest hottest luxury community on the net.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mentioning hydrogen is flammable is like saying "Oh yeah, gasoline is flammable." Hydrogen can actually be LESS flammable then gasoline, its self-ignition temperature is about 550 C, whereas gasolines is 228-501, based on the grade.

      http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fuels-ignition-temperatures-d_171.html
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why the 6.0L V-12 for only 260hp? Could they have produced the same power output with a smaller engine size?
      • 8 Years Ago
      BMW has been building hydrogen 7's for years... I think there's a new group of them every 3-5 years or so. I just don't recall if they have all been flexible between gas-hydrogen... and I don't recall them all being this anemic...
      Either way... you don't see this coming from Merc or Audi/VW, do you? They have so much wound up in the deisel bandwagon it makes us sick (literally, Re: #14)
      GM and Ford have been making steady progression towards hydrogen power... albeit most of it is fuel cell based.
      Kudos BMW - keep making the best cars in the world.
      • 8 Years Ago
      And I thought E-85 was tough to find. Where can I fill it up with Hydrogen?
      David E. Anderson
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hydrogen is very easily leaked since it will find its way through welds, and my question is what will be the effect of leaks on the ozone layer. Hyrogen + O3 makes H2O + O2. The other drawbacks seem to me to reduce this to a publicity stunt. I drive a hybrid, and have taken up and down the east coast three times this year with great results. Let's get real here.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Kudos to BMW for thinking outside the box-trying something different. Hydrogen is definitely going to be a player in the future. And no expensive batteries to replace down the road.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I you read the fine print, you'll find that the hydrogen in this car's tank evaporates constantly, at the rate of one ninth of the tank per day. Let it sit nine days, and the hydrogen is all boiled off. Lovely. And very practical. Not!
      • 8 Years Ago
      #15 Should everyone giveup where Ford failed? I doubt.
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