Precast: Hydrogen-Powered 7-Series, Drop-Top 300C, New G35, Fiero Redux?
So, BMW develops a flex fuel gas/hydrogen powered vehicle and we're supposed to give them tree-hugging props? I don't think so. I give them far more credit for perfecting and selling the diesel engines in their European sedans; cars that are are clean-running, quiet, efficient and powerful. While pistonheads are generally considered selfish bastards whose love of speed, comfort and style is a luxury our country– indeed the entire world– can no longer afford, I say bollocks to that. There is no reason why this country can't develop its own sources of energy– so we can burn it as we will in our choice of automobile. Anyway, that's my warm-up for my September 11th column on America's national energy policy as it relates to your car or cars. If you have any thoughts on the matter, you can help me out by dropping them here. Meanwhile, enjoy the pre-rant precast.
Mike Spinelli: …ok…
Robert Farago: I swear we can do this. Are you ready?
RF: What take is this?
MS: I don’t even remember it. Six I think.
RF: Geez… We’re way ahead there. OK…
RF: Good morning Mr. Spinelli.
MS: Good morning Mr. Farago.
RF: How are you today sir?
MS: Boy, am I excellent how are you?
RF: I’m still well.
MS: That’s fantastic.
RF: How are things at www.jalopnik.com?
MS: They’re great. And how are things at thetruthaboutcars.com?
RF: Wow! Are they hot.
MS: Ah. Fantastic.
RF: All right. Now BMW is making (laughter)… is making… (laughter) … a hydrogen powered car. What can we say about that…
RF: …we haven’t said before?
MS: Well, it’s interesting because Autoexpress has the spy shots today of the production version of the 7 Series clean energy hydrogen car. The thing is, it’s not fuel cell.
MS: It’s combustion… it’s a hydrogen combustion engine.
RF: A flex fuel?
MS: Flex fuel. Right. Along with… in other words it’ll have two tanks. One with gasoline and one for the hydrogen.
RF: And never shall the two mix.
MS: Hopefully, for, yeah, for those involved it’ll ….. yeah… not as.. yeah.
RF: How, how, just out of curiosity… I mean, I know we really shouldn’t perhaps go down this road, but you know, that’s, that’s what we do.
RF: How bad would hydrogen blow up if, you know, if it did blow up?
RF: I mean, I know gasoline is actually more combustible than hydrogen … more explosive.
IMS: It’s interesting. I don’t know exactly the volatility factor … it’s pretty volatile though. I know hydrogen is…
RF: I think those guys over at Top Gear should try and blow one of those suckers up.
MS: Hey, that would be an excellent idea,
RF: Yeah. Just to show that it can be done.
MS: Right, through the mushroom cloud that ends up, uh, over Birmingham or wherever they are.
RF: Yeah. That would be…
MS: They would have to account for that.
RF: Proof positive, though, that maybe it’s not the best idea. Actually I’m sure it’s safe cause you know…
MS: I’m sure…no, it’s safe… it’s safe because they’ve been coming up with these these tanks that make it safe.
RF: Right. OK and I… don’t they run trains into them just to show that they’re safe, or is that nuclear carriers?
MS: Yeah, I don’t know that that is… running rains into stuff…
MS: Sounds fun, but, uh, yeah…
RF: Anyway, so if you think it’s hard to find an E-85 station, you just try and look for a hydrogen station.
MS: Exactly. Well, well… BMW earlier this year said this car is coming out in two years, but of course not to John Q. Public. It’s coming out, uh, fleet sales.
RF: Well, who would want to run a fleet of 7 Series?
MS: Um. I don’t know. I think there must be some…
RF: There’s got to be a bank in Germany
MS: Exactly I mean…
RF: Zey are running zee hydrogen powered car…
MS: Ja, ja.
RF: For all our executives.
MS: For every single one of our executives.
RF: Has hydrogen power. I can’t, I can’t understand this.
MS: What fleet, I mean, I don’t think it’s…
RF: I thought this…
MS: …the Los Angeles cab company, I mean, I don’t… who knows?
RF: Well, it’s really weird because, you know, all this alternative energy stuff tends to be on the sort of, you know, the economy, clean air, tree hugging, you know, lefty side of the…
MS: Yeah, you had to throw that in didn’t you…
RF: Well, but what I’m saying is, that, you know, the 7 Series is the plutocrat’s express.
MS: It’s, it’s funny… right… exactly… really seems…
RF: Not quite the image for this
MS: It’s a little bit counterintuitive, but, but, then again, you know. Ford has the hydrogen combustion engine in an airport bus. So, I mean, that actually makes a bit more sense from a fleet standpoint.
RF: Yeah, well you just circuit, you’re only what, what two miles away from your gas station?
MS: Yeah, you’re driving around and around in circles. Right, you’re never, right, you’re never, you’re never really more than what, a quarter mile from a gas…uh… hydrogen fuel station?
MS: But, but, you know, don’t forget, California’s working on this, uh, hydrogen highway, right?
RF: Yeah, where they’re going to have hydrogen stations positioned every what, twenty miles?
MS: I’m not sure how many miles…
RF: What’s the range of a hydrogen car?
MS: I’m not sure exactly, I think it’s more like, you know, hundreds of miles, or something, a hundred miles…
RF: Well the other thing we need to point out is that hydrogen, uh, takes energy to… you have to spend energy to create hydrogen.
MS: Yeah, that’s true…
MS: …you got to crack it.
RF: Right. So although the cars are going to have zero emissions at the tailpipe, there’s still going to be carbon, uh, by-product somewhere in the chain.
MS: Well, yeah, unless, you know, a lot of scientists feel that in order for the hydrogen economy to work you need, you need nuclear, you need some nuclear reactors to more, you know, economically… of course, then you end up with the, uh, you know, brown water you gotta deal with
RF: Yeah, exactly…
MS: … uh, not brown water… heavy, heavy water.
RF: Heavy water.
MS: Yeah. Brown water is something…
MS: Totally Different.
RF: You get those spent rods as well.
MS: Spent rods uh.. yeah.
RF: Which has nothing to do with the web site I was on 10 minutes ago.
MS: He’ll be here all week.
RF: Ok, but the important point about it is this, that hydrogen is not the solution to our energy needs.
MS: Um.. it’s, it’s interesting, I mean, you know, it’s not THE solution. That’s kind of a, you know, uh, I mean it could be. It’s not like it’s not…
RF: Well the only thing that could make it work is if you had very small micro refineries using all kinds of alternative energy spread throughout the country.
MS: Well, you see now you read, uh… I don’t know… Wired Magazine in, what, 1993, they were talking about doing that. But of course, the, the… it’s a little bit prohibitive, I think, at this point. But, yeah, I mean, in the future…
RF: But then you’re asking the big oil companies to surrender production.
MS: So that’s another problem.
RF: You know, that’s, that’s… I don’t know… the hydrogen economy I think is a bit of a ruse. I don’t really think it’s gonna be… it’s gonna be something we’re gonna see in our lifetime.
MS: Well… well yeah, I mean it, it’s gonna take a lot of, of changes and, and, uh, you know…
RF: Well, who’s gonna do it? I mean, you know, unless you have a national initiative to, uh, you know, unless we have something called, I dunno… what, an energy policy?
RF: You know.
MS: Exactly right.
RF: Until they can decide what we should be doing and how we should be doing it, it’s not going to happen.
MS: Yeah, well there’s, you know, there’s too many… too many interests involved at this point so, you know, of course nothing is going to get done, and, uh… well I guess we need a dictator to say, OK this is the energy we’re using
RF: Yeah. Right. That’s what we need. A dictator. Good answer.
RF: Thank you.
MS: But anyway…
RF: The first web site’s that’s going to be shut down by that dictator is yours.
MS: But anywhooo…
RF: Yes, we have the Chrysler.
MS: We have a Chrysler that might… we might see. Uh prob…
MS: Uh. 300C drop top which we may see before we see a 7 Series hydrogen.
RF: I think a lot better. Certainly more desirable.
MS: Ah… yeah.
RF: Well for me.
MS: Well, I… I mean, yeah, but you’re right though, the drop top looks spectacular.
RF: It is an amazing car but you… you tell me that it’s no longer going… the original concept was made by ASC Inc.
RF: And now they’re diverting to Magna-Steyr.
MS: Well, the latest we’ve heard is that,uh,yeah, that…that… that, uh, Chrysler is going to Magna-Steyr a supplier that they use to build Jeeps and other cars, um, in Austria. Of course they’re a Canadian-Austrian firm. Um… and yeah, according to this latest report they’ll have a Karmann-style, you know, like a retractable folding steel roof like Volkswagen has for the Eos you know. I guess GM has with the um G6 now.
RF: Well, listen, they build it for the right price and they’ll sell them all day long.
MS: Ah, of course. I mean, and when was the last time you saw a 4 door, a 4 door convertible? What? I mean on Entourage you see the, uh, Lincoln from what, ‘68 or whatever it was, you know, with that crane shot you pointed out, uh, whenever that was.
RF: That was in take 2.
MS: Well, it was either take two or…
RF: This is take 12.
MS: You also said it l, I think in an earlier podcast.
RF: OK Well, there you go. So yeah, I think it’ll be a huge hit.
MS: In 2010 you can might, you may see that.
RF: Oh Yeah? That’s, that’s pretty close.
RF: And speaking of cars of the future, what about the Infiniti G35, the next one?
MS: Well, yeah, the uh the you know Infiniti senior VP uh Shiro Nakamuro, you know, says that it’s going to look like the, uh, coupe concept we saw in Detroit so there’s something. I wish it…
RF: Well it’s certainly a good looking car and I think Infiniti is set to take off.
MS: Yeah, it’s interesting ‘cause, you know, they, they really want to break into uh, into the European and, um, and even into their own Japanese market. Don’t forget the Japanese have been buying, you know, Mercedes and BMWs as luxury cars for so long that you know their own luxury brands have a lot of work to do, you know, to get in there.
RF: That’s often the case though, that the domestic brand doesn’t have the cache of the import.
MS: Right exactly. They have the same problem that, say, Cadillac has here.
RF: Yeah. Well, ok. But I do think this is a good looking car and somebody has got to knock the 3 Series off its perch.
MS: That’s true and, and this, this could be the car to do it. I mean, we’ll see
RF: They don’t have to but it’s worth trying to.
MS: But it should. I mean the 3 Series coupe at least, now that the 3 Series 5i, you know, it needs some completion. This could be pretty potent competition.
RF: I don’t think BMW executives would agree with you on that.
MS: That they need competition? No, competition is good, I mean, didn’t, well, I mean, they probably don’t agree that they quite need it, but they do need it.
RF: OK. Well then, whether they agree with it or not there it is.
MS: Maybe they do agree with it.
RF: Well the Pontiac Fiero coming back.
MS: Well, that’s interesting. You know, uh, you know, our friends over at the, uh, Left Lane News sort of went trolling around in the, uh, the, uh, Patent, US Patent stuff yesterday and they, yeah, they came up with this.
RF: Do you think they were actually trolling around or do you think someone sent them a heads up?
MS: No, they said they were, he said, I was talking with Nick from over there yesterday, and he said, uh, that it was a boring news day so he was sort of messing around in there. I mean, it could have been a tip, but who knows? But…
RF: Ok. Well, we believe…
MS: But it’s easy enough to look around…
RF: …Nick is as honest as the day is long.
MS: Yeah. But it’s easy enough to look around in the US Patent thing, just to look for key words and stuff, and it’s, you know, but it’s kind of fun.
RF: But the Fiero as you pointed out in your post, uh, was actually just about coming right when they killed it.
MS: Yeah, you know, and, and this is just part of it cause he also found a couple of other things I’ll just mention quickly. Eight speed transmission for GM and, uh, Firebird is also being re-opted as a trademark. But, anyway, but yeah, the Fiero was uh yeah. They were just getting it cause it sucked so badly in the beginning.
RF: But they did bring it, right, and we’d like to see a small MR-2 style car.
MS: It would be neat, I mean, I don’t, I don’t expect that, that something like that is coming back eminently, but uh, hey you never know.
RF: And we are coming back eminently on Monday.
MS: Yes. We’ll do that.
RF: Thank you for your time
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