We just discussed the all new hydrogen powered Toyota Mirai last week, and now, another prevalent car company is making waves by testing its own hydrogen fuel cell-powered prototype. BMW was seen last week testing a prototype based off their i8 plug-in hybrid – a prototype that replaces a standard engine with a hydrogen fuel cell. Loosely called the eDrive Hydrogen Fuel Cell Prototype, BMW has no immediate plans to produce this car; however, the fact that BMW is creating real, tangible hydrogen technology is reason enough to get excited.
BMW has been working on hydrogen-powered vehicles since the 1980s, and the company’s early efforts focused on a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine, which lacked the efficiency of today’s hydrogen fuel cells. Accordingly, BMW has changed their tactics, switching to a hydrogen fuel cell with this prototype to create cleaner, more reliable energy source.
With this new prototype, BMW joins a growing list of car companies that are experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell technology. This car, even with its brand new, cutting edge technology is fully drivable, and tops out with a maximum speed of around 125 miles per hour, so it is certainly no slouch with its fancy hydrogen powered performance.
The eDrive Hydrogen Fuel Cell Prototype was built on top of the design used for early BMW i8 hybrids, so it bears a large resemblance to the original i8 for the time being. However, the inside of the car is markedly different, as BMW has replaced the cars back seats with the hydrogen fuel cell.
BMW has become increasingly committed to hydrogen in recent years, as a partnership with Toyota allowed the brand to share some of Toyota’s hydrogen technology – the technology behind the soon-to-be-released, all-hydrogen Mirai.
While it is important to remember this is just a prototype, it’s still reason to get excited. After all, we may see a hydrogen-fueled BMW on the roads sooner than we had thought.