Reaction to the BMW Hydrogen 7 is divided into two camps: Those impressed with the innovative technology that allows a luxury car to run on either gasoline or liquiefied hydrogen, and those wondering if the anyone will ever be able to drive it. BMW unveiled the Hydrogen 7 to the public for the first time today at the Los Angeles Auto Show amid boasts of its green achievements. Tom Purves, head of the North American operations, called it a strategy of sustainability and pointed to a recent report from Environmental Defense that said BMW had the biggest reduction in fleet average CO2 emissions of all major automakers from 1990 to 2003. Purves said BMW reduced its output by 13 percent and the nearest competitor was only 3 percent. Also, BMW has led the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for two years and is the only automotive company to be on the index since it was created in 1999.
The Hydrogen 7 has the potential for zero emissions by burning hydrogen in its 6-liter 12-cylinder engine. Of course, skeptics say producing hydrogen creates CO2 or is very expensive. Bottom line: there are only a few facilities in the world that can refuel the Hydrogen 7's noticeable tank. Timm Kehler, BMW's vice president for marketing innovation projects, told AutoblogGren that the Hydrogen 7 was built for the future.
"This is a statement that we're doing to stimulate interest in hydrogen," said Kehler, saying he felt the initial reaction to the vehicle has been "spectacular."
Kehler said the vehicle is the result of nearly three decades of research as the company has always been the pursuit of sustainability, zero emissions and the independence of fossil fuel. "This is in order to safeguard our commercial future," he said.
There were two technology breakthroughs allowing BMW to build 100 Hydrogen 7 vehicles for testing. First is the super-insulated storage tank to hold the liquid hydrogen. "If you put a snowman in this tank it would live for 13 years," said Kehler, noting that BMW fulfilled all the security and safety requirements necessary for using deep-cooled, liquid hydrogen. Next was developing an engine-management system that equally matched the power curve of the engine on each of two fuels. The engine has two complete fuel systems, including fuel injectors, to support the fuel choice of the driver. "There are no compromises when driving this car," Kehler said.
See more photos of the BMW Hydrogen 7 after the break