TodayApril 17, 2022

BMW bi-fuel – hydrogen/gasoline

BMW hydrogen 7

It pays to be well-known and/or really smart. 100 lucky politicians, entertainers, industry aficionados will have a chance of driving the first hydrogen-gasoline luxury performance BMW hydrogen 7 vehicles. They won’t be able to buy the car, only lease it, but they will be able to drive it. So, who will these people be?

First, they have to live around a hydrogen facility, so that they can participate in the bi-fuel program. Second, their name has to be instantly recognizable, or incredibly intelligent. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a proponent of the hydrogen highway in California is a great example of someone that should receive a BMW bi-fuel.

Schwarzenegger lives in Los Angeles and commutes from Los Angeles to work in Sacramento. Arnie could start on hydrogen in Los Angeles, switching to gasoline halfway through the trip and then filling up with hydrogen from the California Fuel Cell Partnership when he got to Sacramento.

BMW is still working on fuel cell vehicles, but, let’s face it, hydrogen is not available everywhere. This bi-fuel will give BMW real-world testing on a system that can be used extensively while the world builds the hydrogen highway. Schwarzenegger has not confirmed that he is on the list to get a BMW or whether he wants to stay in his Hummer or plane, but the BMW bi-fuel is a confirmation of the plan he announced when he first got into office. The car is based on the BMW 7-Series and has already undergone the regular Product Development Process.

The Hydrogen 7

All the amenities of a 7-Series, the BMW Hydrogen 7 is powered by a 260 hp twelve-cylinder engine and accelerates from 0-62.1 mph in 9.5 seconds. The top speed is limited electronically to 143 mph. BMW is calling this a dual-mode, instead of a bi-fuel, mainly because of the power unit.

A touch of a button allows you to switch from hydrogen to conventional premium gasoline. If one tank runs out of energy, the dual-mode power unit senses it and switches over automatically to the other tank. If it were a full hydrogen fuel cell vehicle Schwarzenegger would get about 125 miles before he would be stranded on I-5, thumb in the air, cigars in a pocket. That would have been a fun photo-op, but pity, BMW thought of everything.

The first 125 miles of Schwarzenegger trip would see a dramatic reduction in emissions, save the cigars. The beauty of hydrogen is that it essentially emits vapor; water and heat. The dual-mode will then come into play and switch, seamlessly, to the gasoline mode. The gasoline tank will give Arnie another 300 miles of talking to his political pontiffs and to see just where to put the next five hydrogen filling stations.

BMW: Hydrogen and Clean Energy Strategy
BMW: Hydrogen and Clean Energy Strategy

According to the press release by BMW, “the BMW Hydrogen 7 perfectly captures the essence of the BMW CleanEnergy strategy. By using hydrogen produced from water and renewable energy, such as wind, sun, or hydropower, in an internal combustion engine, the car’s emissions are essentially nothing but a vapor. And, with this emitted water vapor, the cycle can start again and the dream of sustainable mobility without using fossil fuel resources and without impacting the earth’s climate can become a reality.

The complete change from a fossil fuel infrastructure to a hydrogen economy will require decades, but with the Hydrogen 7, BMW shows that bringing hydrogen technology to the road is indeed feasible. The BMW 7 uses liquid hydrogen which seems to be the choice of most manufacturers. The liquid is denser than compressed hydrogen which gives the car the ability to go further on one tank of gas.

The best part of this vehicle is you get the comfort of the luxurious BMW 7, the performance of the BMW 7, and you are helping BMW with real-world testing of their future generations of cars, including using a fuel cell as an auxiliary power unit.

The BMW Hydrogen 7 will be shown at the Los Angeles car show in November, but if you want to lease one of these babies and consider yourself one of the most influential, richest, or smartest people in the world that live near a hydrogen station contact BMW and put your name on the list.

You never know. If Arnie sticks with his plane that’s one less person you’re competing with. And in the United States they’re letting you use it for free, everywhere else has to lease it. On the other hand, Maria Shriver and the kids may have applied.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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