That didn't last long. In December, the word was that General Motors and BMW would pair up on fuel cell powerplants. Today, it looks like those talks are over and done with. As BMW spokesman Alexander Bilgeri told Bloomberg, "We are still talking to GM, but no longer on the topic of fuel cells."

It sounds like this change is a consequence of the soon-to-be official partnership between BMW and Toyota for "joint projects in hybrid technology, fuel cells, vehicle electronics" and lightweight technology, according to Der Spiegel. BMW and Toyota argeed – also last December – to collaborate on new green technologies. Given the expense of researching and developing better engines, we're not surprised that these sorts of team-ups get talked about ... and then sometimes fall through.

We should get more information on the BMW/Toyota deal after the two companies hold a joint press conference Thursday, June 29.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 82 Comments
      accsport
      • 2 Years Ago
      That would take a good car like the BMW and blend it with Government Motors making a mess.
      carcrazy714
      • 2 Years Ago
      What happened to BMW's work with hydrogen? It looked like a pretty good deal.
        skierpage
        • 2 Months Ago
        @carcrazy714
        Six years ago BMW showed and claims to have produced 100 of the Hydrogen 7, which could be powered by hydrogen *combustion in its engine* as well as gasoline. All the downsides of the spotty hydrogen refueling infrastructure, without the improved efficiency of a fuel cell and no capturing brake energy in a battery.
          Chris M
          • 2 Months Ago
          @skierpage
          The Hydrogen 7 could run on gasoline when liquid hydrogen wasn't available - which was often. A 35 gallon insulated liquid H2 tank filled the trunk space but gave a mere 135 mile range, and the high price of liquid H2 meant it cost far more to drive on hydrogen. Worst of all for "the ultimate driving machine", power and performance dropped when it was running on liquid H2. BMW has quietly shelved the idea of selling a H2-ICE car, and is concentrating on fuel cells, including the idea of using a very small H2 fuel cell as an electrical power source for a conventional ICE car.
      Kenneth E
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thursday June 29???? Umm tomarow seem to be Thursday... June 28:D
      Robert Hettinger
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just read in one of the car mags that BMW has severe quality problems!
      budfox
      • 2 Years Ago
      A wise revenge since GM kicked BMW out of the hybrid joint venture with PSA (BPC Electrification). http://www.ftd.de/unternehmen/industrie/:kooperation-fuer-hybridautos-peugeot-laesst-bmw-im-stich/70053298.html GM are ugly tough guys, next they gonna kill Opel I guess considering the expensive labor here. Whatever.
      Elmo Biggins
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hydrogen only seems to pull people apart... :( ban it.
      LL
      • 2 Years Ago
      After working for many years in the corporate world and being downsized 2 times in a span of less than 5 years I've got very clear for the fact that we work for others. A big portion of our life experience and happiness is dependent upon conditions and decisions that we have a absolutely no control over. So without knowing what I was going to be doing I made a firm promise to myself at that point, that I wasn't going to work for anyone else ever again. A short time after that this business opportunity ( http://bit.ly/SmartLiving ) came into my life, I took a look at it, it made sense and I realised it was exactly what I was looking for and also it was the answer to the promise that I have made to myself. This after living a life filled with needless meetings, presentations and business travel. I absolutely love this business, I love it's purpose and how it helps other people.
      • 2 Years Ago
      THANK GOD. I don't want a Chinese BMW.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      maybe GM is slowly realizing that people aren't buying the hydrogen lie anymore
        oollyoumn
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Or maybe they found they would rather work with Toyota. I gave up hope on hydrogen more than a decade ago, but people keep chasing it. Maybe someday they will find a microbe that craps hydrogen cost effectively, but it does not make add up to generate electricity to make hydrogen and then develop a power plant and hydrogen storage system to carry around in a car to make electricity out of hydrogen to run an electric motor. It just seams simpler and more efficient to find a better way to store electricity.
          Dave
          • 2 Months Ago
          @oollyoumn
          "....it does not make add up to generate electricity to make hydrogen....." Cold electrolysis is the least efficient way to generate hydrogen. Steam methane reformation, coal gasification, or the Sulfur-Iodine process driven by nuclear heat are nearly 3 times more efficient.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Months Ago
          @oollyoumn
          gorr, what about capacitors and inductors..
          Spec
          • 2 Months Ago
          @oollyoumn
          Mine has a flux capacitor. You should see what happens when I hit 88 mph.
          Chris M
          • 2 Months Ago
          @oollyoumn
          Gorr, you're getting closer, but still missed the target. It isn't "80% efficient in and 80% efficient out" for batteries, batteries are 85% efficient at storing electrical energy, comparing energy in to energy out. The combination of water electrolysis, compressing the H2 gas for storage, then using a fuel cell is less efficient at storing electrical energy - about 30%, comparing energy in to energy out. (That's assuming high efficiency electrolysis and high efficiency fuel cells).
          goodoldgorr
          • 2 Months Ago
          @oollyoumn
          Nothing can store electricity, electricity is a minute energy that cannot be store. A battery is said to store electricity but the real thing is that electricity modify the chemical and that chimical make electricity when a circuit is made and connected so the chimical make electricity on the spot for a given time. Nobody discovered electricity except when someone observing lighthing in the sky had the idea of testing a simple circuit before discovering what electricity was, he took an electrical shock but saw nothing so they discovered electricity. Anything that have a chemical reaction that can be reversed can then serve as an ' electricity ' reservoir like a battery or condensor. Hydrogen have a potential reverse chimical reaction, hydrogen with oxygen to water(same total mass) and then this water to hydrogen and oxygen. This reverse reaction can give a mix of heat and/or electricity. So to speak of, we can store electricity in a battery and we can store electricity in a system that combine hydrogen to oxygen in a fuelcell then this same fuelcell circuit can separate water back to hydrogen and oxygen. Many bloggers here said that battery are 80% efficient when you charge it and 80% efficient when you discharge it and that electric motors are 80% efficient. These are realistic numbers. So if you have an electrical source that is 80% efficient like a wind turbine for exemple then the wind is converted to 80% of the original energy, then it lost 20% when you store it in the battery and when it exit the battery it lose another 20% and the electric motors that propel the car lose another 20%. All of these lost in efficiency are transformed in waste heat. So the generator in the windmill is hot, the battery get hot when storing and get hot when discharging and the electric motors get hot too. If you tailor made a comparable system with a hydrogen oxygen fuelcell and water you can achieve the same result but many here say that it is less efficient. It goes like this with the same windmill you put the electricity in water then it give hydrogen and oxygen and then after a while this hydrogen is recombine with the oxygen giving a certain amount of the original electricity. Some said that you lose 70% of the energy when you do hydrogen with the electricity and that the fuelcell making electricity back lose 30%. So instead of losing 20% at any given step you lose 20% at the windmill then 70% at the electrolyzer( the devise that separate water) and 30% at the fuelcell and then 20% at the motors. These are false numbers spouted by hysterical job seekers and the efficiency of a hydrogen system can be very high and also it can be scale big cuz there is few weight and space occupied by such a system. I read many articles on the subject and hydrogen can be made with numerous other devises and methods. It was experimented many times. All this didn't found commercial applications because it erase many many jobs and products.
        Dave
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        GM and Toyota are still working on fuel cells. BMW has chosen to partner with Toyota on fuel cells instead of partnering with GM. Apparently, Toyota made BMW a better offer.
          Dave
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Dave
          "seems more likely to me they will work on carbon and electrification" What is more profitable? 1) Econoboxes with ~100 mile range 2) Luxury cars and trucks with ~250+ mile range that can be refueled in less than 5 minutes
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Dave
          GM seems to have chosen Option 3: 3) PHEVs - Luxury Cars and Trucks, that have the cheapest operating costs for most of driving. While having 350+ range, can be refueled in less than 5 minutes, AND has fuel available everywhere, right now.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Dave
          Dun, Dun, Duuuuunnnnn!
          Dave
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Dave
          http://green.autoblog.com/2012/06/25/bmw-toyota-mulling-expansive-partnership-for-fuel-efficient-veh/
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Dave
          how do you know they will work together on fuel cells? seems more likely to me they will work on carbon and electrification
          Dave
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Dave
          For now.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ford is ahead of them all.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Months Ago
        Um.. sure, I'll bite.. HOW?
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          The first generation Focus Fuel Cell vehicles have performed better than expected, exceeding 865,000 real world miles and earning praise from fleet users around the world. Ford has extended its three-year-old hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle program for up to 24 months. Ford is developing a next generation fuel cell vehicle that will build on the success of the current program with improved performance, reliability and efficiency.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I'd love to see some info, data, links. I know Ford had/has a FC program, but it's not very open.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          It seems back in 2005, Ford built a whopping 30 FCVs (hand built conversions of the Focus) They ran H2 from a 300 bar tank. And really no trunk space left over since the tank is back there. Sure, they put a lot of miles on those 30 cars... but they are certainly not ahead of anybody. http://www.sceneoftheaccident.org/erg/Ford%20Focus%20Fuel%20Cell.pdf http://corporate.ford.com/microsites/sustainability-report-2011-12/environment-products-plan-migration-fcv In 2009, the program ended after millions of miles driven. Ford hasn't done much since.
          Spec
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Do they have any plans to actually sell any of these vehicles? Or are they just endless test vehicles?
      havecash
      • 2 Years Ago
      forget cells....natural gas is the way to go!
        DaveMart
        • 2 Months Ago
        @havecash
        If you build a tank for natural gas it has to be bigger, as you are lugging around a lot of carbon as well as the hydrogen. Even after taking out the energy penalty of reforming NG fuel cells burn it far more efficiently than a combustion engine does NG. What I find difficult to comprehend is why many seem to prefer clearly inferior choices when superior ones are becoming available, with the price rapidly dropping. Some here seen to think that all the car manufacturers and their accountant's have gone mad, and can't work out prices of fuel cell manufacturing with any accuracy at all. A natural gas car will always be inferior on most metrics to a car running on petrol, as you are lugging around an expensive, heavy, bulky tank, far more so than the tank for hydrogen, where the fuel is lighter and less voluminous for a given energy, and used far more efficiently in a fuel cell. Short of lithium air batteries or some such, even the mighty Tesla will run out of puff after a couple of hours of motorway cruising at good speed. No such limits apply to fuel cell cars. And for those who don't fancy them as they want, in theory if not in practise, to charge their cars with solar, putting in a large battery and a charging point in a fuel cell vehicle is essentially trivial, and has no relation to the complex engineering required to build the Volt et al. Wiring up every single home and apartment to allow charging is also non-trivial, and many of the costs I have seen for charging infrastructure including public chargers do not count the cost of installation and upgrading the transformers etc. Ripping up the street is not cheap. Wouldn't it e nice if we had a technology which meant that not every home in all locations would need wiring up, and which obviated the need for large numbers of fast chargers, which might or might no be free when you wanted to charge! Well, actually, we do. Fuel cell cars fit the bill nicely, and go together superbly well with battery technology, and each reduces the cost of the other's infrastructure. Far fewer hydrogen filling stations are needed if a lot of cars are charging at home, and conversely using the 80:20 rule of thumb, wiring up every single home and street would be vastly expensive, but wiring up those which are easiest and leaving the rest takes great chunks out of cost, perhaps up to 50% for the last 20% of inconvenient locations. Aside from that, short again of lithium air batteries, a fuel cell car for long journeys is simply fundamentally better than a BEV, as it can go faster for longer and is far lighter. I don't really understand why many seem so absolutely opposed to having what is a far better car.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Curious... anybody know (and could cite) the average efficiency of the best automotive CNG burning engine? I doubt it is less than 25% since CNG cars typically get much better overall efficiency since they can run very lean. So even if you used the best efficiency for a fuel cell, 60%, it is not quite 3 times. It is 2 times. When it comes down to an actual production fuel cell vehicle, I would like to see if 60% is attainable as an total average efficiency, rather than an upper limit. ----------------- Well, since it has been claimed by DaveMart that a FCV could get 3 times the efficiency (tank to wheels) as a CNG vehicle... lets compare: Both the Honda Civic CNG and the Honda FCX Clarity are in the same class. The latest FCX Clarity reports 60% efficiency of the fuel cell system on the LA-4 driving cycle. ... http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/fuel-cell-comparison.aspx and reports that the EPA mileage will be getting 60 Miles/Kg (which is about the same as MPGe or (Gasoline Gallon Equivalent; GGE)) http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/specifications.aspx?group=epa The latest Honda Civic has been rated as 31 MPGe or Gasoline Gallon Equivalent; GGE. http://automobiles.honda.com/civic-natural-gas/specifications.aspx?group=epa So both cars are compared to gasoline for efficiency. ----------- Now even though the Honda is reporting 60% efficiency overall. The stack could be significantly lower. But even if the Hyundai FC stack could manage a sustained 60% efficiency average over the EPA test cycle... that would NOT put the FC system to be 3 times more efficient than the CNG system. So the laws of physics will keep CNG as 3x more energy dense by volume compared to H2 at the same pressure. And the efficiency remains around 2x more for H2 FC compared to CNG in the same vehicle. And of course, cost is cheaper in both manufacture and operation for the CNG system. And the infrastructure is vastly cheaper and much farther along. H2 FCVs may be cleaner overall (per mile), but cost is always the bigger deciding factor.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          "The ICE engine, components and CNG together are still less expensive than a fuel cell system.' correction and additions: "The ICE engine [with associated components], [Hybrid] components and CNG [tank]... together are still less expensive than a fuel cell system." A CNG hybrid might be only $10k over the equivilent gasoline model A typical Gas-Electric hybrid commands a $4k premium, and (as with the Honda CNG) a CNG version will command about a $6k premium over the gasoline version. Right now, a FCV is estimated at about a $20k premium http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/news-events/news-archive/2011/november/initial-commercial-production-run-of-hyundai-ix35-tucson-fcev-confirmed http://www.hyundaiusa.com/tucson/ The reasons why I think CNG-EV hybrids have not gained much traction is similar to why I think FCEV won't either. ♦ Cleaner than gasoline: CNG (good), FCV (excellent) ♦ Cheaper operating cost: CNG (good), FCV (better) ♦ Available fuel: CNG (Bad), FCV (Worst) ♦ Cost of Vehicle: CNG ($10k above base), FCV ($20k above base) So with a 2:1 average (and likely) efficiency gain for FCVs over CNG... But a 3:1 energy density gain for CNG over FCV... The costs range per volume of fuel should be slightly in favor of CNG. So both CNG-EV hybrids and FCVs would be in the same boat in the market... however, people do NOT value the "cleaner" metric as much as the other three.... especially the "Availability of fuel, and total cost of the vehicle. Those are non-starters. Even higher operating cost is usually not a deterent for many people. Here's a CNG-EV hybrid bus by Hyundai. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/02/bluecity-20110202.html So now lets compare a PHEV-80 which I think would blow them both away: ♦ Cleaner than gasoline: PHEV-80 (very good), FCV (excellent) ♦ Cheaper operating cost: PHEV-80 (Very Best), FCV (good) ♦ Available fuel: PHEV-80 (Everywhere), FCV (Worst) ♦ Cost of Vehicle: PHEV-80 (Unknown), FCV ($20k above base) The cost of the PHEV-80 will be dependent on battery costs in the future. But it is looking that it will be much cheaper than the FCV premium.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Joe: You are using the less efficient Honda to compare. In the case of fuel cells it is valid to use the most efficient example. as it is early days and improvements are occurring rapidly. The latest Hyundai achieved significantly better fuel economy than it's predecessor, or the Honda, getting 72mpge compared to the petrol version's 25mpg. It is not clear that it was tested like for like however, so the 3 times figure I have used is rough, and might revise down to perhaps 2.5 times. OTOH it might not, as every aspect of the FCEV drive train is improving rapidly, far more so than for ICE. The only figures I have seen for CNG cars give them rather poor efficiency, perhaps because they were not fully optimised. 2-3 times would probably be the right range for the improvement in efficiency by going to fuel cells from NG. You continue to take current cost of manufacture and treat it as though it is fixed in stone. The accountant's of every car company in the world have not gone bonkers, and see opportunities to take cost out so that fuel cell vehicles are fully cost competitive. The DOE arrives at it's future estimates by basically asking the manufacturers. The figures I gave for fuel cell costs under mass production are what the manufacturers came up with directly, and also was a sample less biased towards the US than the DOE would typically use. They bear no resemblance to figures used to pump stock for a start up. However, you consistently refuse to use the best estimates we have available in favour of your own guess that 'it is too expensive', and similarly for infrastructure, where it is now clear that the costs are perfectly acceptable, but that has in no way modified your view. It is perfectly clear that using fuel cells is more both more efficient than using natural gas, and combines far better with batteries so that overall efficiency can be raised still further. It is also clear that it is far easier to attain better range with fuel cells than batteries. For reasons which escape me you prefer sub-optimal solutions, based on your own cost estimates instead of the best we have.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          "you consistently refuse to use the best estimates we have available" Because you want to unfairly compare them to other vehicles that uses averages (not-so-best) data. CNG are not eligible for CARB ZEV credits... so current CNG vehicles are already rated on the full 5-cycle EPA test. But we know that every Zero-emissions vehicle (like FCVs) actually produced by automakers in the U.S. have always claimed their range/economy on the MUCH more lenient LA-4 cycle. So that 72 mpge could most certainly become 62 mpge when actually produced for sale and tested under the 5-cycle EPA test. So the 2:1 ratio stands. ---------------- That 72mpge Tuscon FCV... that is NOT out yet.. and you want to compare it to the current GASOLINE version for 25mpg??? We were comparing CNG vehicles. Is there an equivalent CNG model to that the Tuscon FCV? Also, and this is a big point. The Tuscon FCEV went from 63 to 72 mpge mostly due to installing a battery. Because FCVs are necessarily a hybrid with an electric drivetrain. But a CNG hybrid (non-plugin)... using a similar battery that is used in the Tuscon FCEV... would probably still cost less than the FCEV. The ICE engine, components and CNG together are still less expensive than a fuel cell system. And a CNG Hybrid will certainly pass 40 mpge. So once again, 2:1 ratio. Bottom line, the 3:1 (even 2.5:1) ratio of efficiency is likely to be incorrect. And since the Volumetric density is certainly 3:1 in favor or CNG... CNG has a definite advantage over HFCVs for fuel costs. More miles for less volume of fuel.
          Chris M
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Here's an interesting quiz: Take 2 compressed gas tanks, same volume, same temperature, same pressure, one is filled with Hydrogen (H2), the other filled with Natural Gas (CH4). Which tank contains more hydrogen atoms? Answer: the Natural Gas tank contains twice as many hydrogen atoms! It's Avogadro's gas law - two equal volumes of gas at the same temperature and pressure have the same number of molecules. Since each molecule of CH4 has twice as many hydrogen atoms as each molecule of H2, the result is twice as many hydrogen atoms. That's one reason the volumetric energy density of natural gas is about 3x greater than the volumetric energy density of hydrogen (Carbon atoms also contributes energy, too) Now liquids don't obey Avogadro's gas law, but a liter of gasoline still contains more hydrogen atoms than a liter of liquid hydrogen...
          hondabuck
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          huh, ahh what are you trying to say??
          DaveMart
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Chris: Many thanks for the correction. In that case the tanks for the gases should be similar in volume for the two, as fuel cells are more efficient than using an ICE by roughly that factor of 3, taking the latest fuel cells in the Hyundai.
        Spec
        • 2 Months Ago
        @havecash
        I've been looking at numbers comparing natural gas burning ICE cars to FCVs that use natural gas as feedstock. From what I can tell, the FCV win out in efficiency since fuel cells are so much more efficient (40 to 60% efficiency) than ICEs (20 to 25% efficiency in a car environment). However, you lose some of the energy in natural gas when you convert from natural gas to hydrogen so those are not on an equal basis. However, when you consider the added expense of a FCV compared to a cheap ICE and the infrastructure that need to be built out for hydrogen . . . well, it is very hard to economically justify.
          Chris M
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Spec
          There are solid oxide fuel cells that run directly on natural gas, they achieve a higher efficiency than using steam reforming, purifying the H2, then using a fuel cell. Economics are a bit better without the steam reformer, but the old internal combustion engine is currently less expensive. Research is ongoing to reduce costs, eventually fuel cells might become the economically preferred alternative.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Type your comment hereI have my second BMW. If they go into any kind of partnership with Gm, I will never buy another BMW.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Months Ago
        GM and BMW have already been in a partnership for years - they developed the two-mode hybrid together. It was used in the: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid(aka GMT900) 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid(aka GMT900) 2009/2010 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid
          HAT1701D
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Hmmmm...Dodge and Chrysler, not part of the GM family. Perhaps you meant Daimler? That was when they were under the Daimler/Benz umbrella.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          To be honest, I cut and pasted the list. Yes, the DaimlerChrysler products are in there because Daimler was also part of the partnership. My point still stands - the GM products are represented - Chevys, GMC, Cadillac, and BMW all used the same jointly-developed transmission.
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