There have been several articles floating about over the past week or so stating that BMW is scaling back the operations of its hydrogen development in favor of working or hybrids and battery electric vehicles. The articles state that engineers will be pulled off the BMW Hydrogen 7 to work on other near term projects.
But, one has to wonder if this instead the company is a regrouping and refocusing its time, energy and efforts on hydrogen fuel cell car development. A couple of years ago I conducted an interview with the Corporate Communications Manager for BMW North America.
I asked him why his company was developing the BMW Hydrogen 7 for use with liquid hydrogen and bucking the industry standard of using compressed hydrogen gas like most of the other automakers were doing, even the ones building vehicles with internal combustion engines. His reply at that time was that compressed hydrogen gas was not the industry standard.
But, over the past 2 years liquid hydrogen has not taken off at the new pumps and fueling stations being built, so one has to wonder what role this is playing in BMW’s decision to shelve the Hydrogen 7 for the time being. Perhaps it was more a practical matter that the BMW Hydrogen 7 (at least at one time) had a hydrogen boil off problem in their insulated tanks. Or perhaps, the 125 mile range on hydrogen only (this is a dual fuel vehicle that also uses gasoline with a 300 mile range) wasn’t as green as fuel cell cars that were not dual fuel played a hand in it.
Then again, one has to wonder if BMW is regrouping their hydrogen efforts and focusing on fuel cells this time around. All Cars Electric is running a spy shot of a BMW 1 Series Hybrid being refueled by an unnamed gas. The photo was taken at a hydrogen fueling station. According to the article, the tank could have been nitrogen for emissions testing. But when I drove the BMW Hydrogen 7 several years back at a ride ‘n’ drive I noticed that there were small tanks like this filled with hydrogen that the engineers for other automakers took with them on the road so that they could refuel between hydrogen fueling stations if desired.
I’ve got a call in to my contact at BMW but haven’t heard back to confirm or deny this rumor. Another possibility is that BMW has decided to drop liquid hydrogen and go to compressed hydrogen gas and run this through an internal combustion engine that is also a hybrid electric car. Right now this is all speculation and rumors, but don’t count BMW out yet when it comes to hydrogen development. This may just be a tweak in the roadmap with the end goal in mind of putting a commercial hydrogen car on the road in the near future.