BMW Confirms Hydrogen Car, But Betting On Batteries

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BMW will begin testing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle co-developed with Toyota soon, according to a report from AutoCar, but executives are still betting battery technology will win out. That means the proposed hydrogen production car from BMW may never see the light of day.

No stranger to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, BMW has developed several interesting innovations meant to solve the problems of price and storage. By teaming up with Toyota, BMW is hopefuly it can actually make an affordable and viable production vehicle that runs on hydrogen, probably naming it the i5. But according to BMW marketing chief Ian Robertson, the problem with hydrogen doesn’t like with the cars themselves, but the fueling infrastructure.

“We’ve said we’ll continue to invest in hydrogen and that will result in a small number of production test vehicles being made to prove the technology works,” Robertson to AutoCar. “The real issues lie not around what we can do, though, but whether the infrastructure can be built up to supply hydrogen in the marketplace cost-effectively.”

According to Robertson, advances in lithium-ion, lithium-air, and solid-state batteries could eliminate range and charging anxiety as an issue for plug-in cars. As Tesla has already done, BMW is rolling out a fast-charging network to support plug-in cars, the Car of the Year i3 and Top Gear Car of the year i8. But developing a viable hydrogen infrastructure is much more expensive and difficult, as hydrogen is an absolute bitch to store and transport effectively.

This has been described as the “first mover disadvantage” that is hobbling hydrogen vehicle adoption. While Toyota remains bullish on the advantage of fuel cells, BMW and many other industry analysts see battery electric cars as the undeniable future.Robertson even suggests that the day may come when electric motors and batteries entirely replace combustion engines in the not-too-distant future.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.