BMW's Hydrogen Hybrid

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan
bmw s hydrogen hybrid

Which drive train will own the future? ICE, hydrogen, hybrid? BMW bets it will be all of the above. Autocar reports that BMW has mated a regular ICE with a fuel cell, electricity-storing supercapacitors and an electrically driven rear-axle. The reasoning behind this new type of hybrid is that BMW’s engineers believe that this power train will make the cars capable of switching to an emissions free propulsion system and switch back to ICE when needed. Now I know what you’re thinking at this point. “Cammy, aside from being banning stinkers from city centers. Not only that, soon cities will make it costly to drive and park a regular car, while non-polluting ones drive free or get a discount. A car which can switch to an emission free propulsion system suddenly starts to make sense, as this powertrain could get around these bans. Once back on the Autobahn …

The BMW power train is capable of being stuffed inside a FWD series 1 hatchback and the Mini Clubman. The project hasn’t been greenlit by BMW bosses as while this is good in theory, in reality, there are still problems. One of which is, who will pay to create a hydrogen filling infrastructure in these cities? Yep, it’s not easy being green.

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6 of 19 comments
  • Wsn Wsn on Apr 12, 2010

    This BMW concept is what I would call ugly engineering. That's what happens when people who really should have been doing simple things such as farming started to design cars. With the Nissan Leaf coming for sale, whatever little remaining justification for hydrogen fuel is gone. Just keep on improving pure electric cars. Say, extend the range by 10% and reduce the cost by 5% every model refresh, which is entirely realistic.

  • Dr Strangelove Dr Strangelove on Apr 12, 2010

    For this 'new type of hybrid', we clearly need a new type of name. May I submit 'bastard'.

  • Nikita Nikita on Apr 12, 2010

    About 95% of the hydrogen produced today in the United States is made via steam-methane(natural gas)reforming. Steam-Reforming Reactions Methane: CH4 + H2O (+heat) → CO + 3H2 Water-Gas Shift Reaction CO + H2O → CO2 + H2 (+small amount of heat) I have read that these reactions are only about 30 percent thermally efficient. Note that there is still CO2 produced regardless of the heat source.

    • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Apr 13, 2010

      Exactly. Not only is the sourcing horribly dangerous to our aquifers (look up fracing) the process for obtaining the hydrogen is horribly inefficient. Just another hustle of the masses.

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Apr 12, 2010

    All of that in a Mini. Where will the driver sit?