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BMW Delivers World's First Hydrogen-Powered Saloon

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  BMW Hydrogen 7

BMW Delivers World's First Hydrogen-Powered Saloon

Anthony Fontanelle
May 16, 2007

Direct from its factory in the United Kingdom, BMW delivers the world’s first fleet of the world’s first hydrogen-powered emissions-free luxury saloons - the Hydrogen 7. The saloon is based on the chassis of the standard 7-series but its engine is designed to run on gasoline or hydrogen (bivalent). In hydrogen mode, the saloon emits nothing more than water vapor.

Next week, ‘Clean Energy’ will arrive to the UK with the rolling out eight BMW Hydrogen 7 cars. The virtually emissions-free luxury saloons, also flaunting enhanced BMW brake boosters and other power parts, form part of a total fleet of a hundred Hydrogen 7 models that are a major landmark in the automaker’s CleanEnergy programme. For the first time, Hydrogen 7 models have been delivered on the ‘standard’ 7 Series production line and will be used in normal daily driving in the UK.

Jim O’Donnell, the BMW UK’s managing director, summed up BMW’s milestones: “The arrival of our Hydrogen 7 cars could not have come at a better time. Politicians, business leaders, the media and consumers are engaged in healthy debate on the future of energy supply and use. Meanwhile, the automotive industry is committed to cleaner motoring, with a host of possible solutions available today and being developed for the mid- and long-term. BMW is at the core of the future of motoring with tremendous developments in petrol and diesel engines, hybrid powertrains and hydrogen technologies.”

O’Donnell concluded, “Our EfficientDynamics programme has introduced energy-saving technologies that break through the 60 miles per gallon and one hundred and twenty grams per kilometre CO2 barriers, our new diesels are cleaner and greener than many of today’s hybrids, yet power and performance in all of our cars has improved. Clean, green motoring can also be engaging and dynamic, and the new BMW Hydrogen 7 models epitomise that philosophy.”

The fleet of liquid hydrogen powered product lines from the German automaker is aimed at continuing its rigorous programme of driving activities on UK roads. According to BMW, the company will be in active service as support vehicles at a number of high profile events over the summer as well as transporting key participants at industrial, business and political conferences. A chosen group of high-profile VIP users will also take delivery of a car for short periods of time in order to experience the ‘normality’ of emissions-free motoring.

Uwe Ellinghaus, BMW UK’s marketing director, noted the importance of these hydrogen cars: “The age-old chicken-and-egg debate has now been resolved. BMW can produce hydrogen-powered cars on the production line and the time is right to engage with business leaders and politicians in order to progress the development of a hydrogen highway - the fuelling and infrastructure requirements that make hydrogen a viable fuel for the consumer.”

He added further, “We hope that experiencing these cars in normal driving situations will encourage people to join the debate. Without doubt, it will take many years for a suitable infrastructure to develop that makes hydrogen power an easy option for the consumer, but all indications are hydrogen is the only genuine long-term sustainable power source for cars. Public hydrogen filling stations have been developed in Germany and California, and the presence of BMW Hydrogen 7 cars in the UK will undoubtedly bring the future closer for British drivers.”

The BMW Hydrogen 7 cars will be seen in action at a number of high-profile events starting on 22 May at the SMMT Test Day at Millbrook followed by the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. The Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Revolve alternative fuel Brighton to London drive event are also in the itinerary. The cars will also be used in a number of environmental summits and conferences.

Powered by a 260 horsepower 12-cylinder engine unit, the Hydrogen 7 accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 9.5 seconds before going on to an electronically limited 143 mph top speed. With its unique dual power engine, the driver of a Hydrogen 7 can shift quickly and expediently from hydrogen to conventional gasoline power at a simple push of a steering wheel-mounted button.

The dual power technology employed in the car means it has a cruising range in excess of 125 miles in the hydrogen mode with a further 300 miles under gasoline power. To make the car more potent, the BMW Hydrogen 7 features a conventional 74-litre petrol tank and an extra hydrogen fuel tank holding up to eight kilograms of liquid hydrogen. The flexibility will enable the driver of a BMW Hydrogen 7 is able to use the car at all times, even when the closest hydrogen filling station is out of range. To support BMW’s plans for a cleaner environment, a filling station has been developed in Wembley.

For pure driving bliss, engine performance, power and torque, the Hydrogen 7 ensures unbending characteristics notwithstanding which fuel is in use. The driver can move between the two fuels without any effect on driving performance or behavior of the car. The Hydrogen 7 always gives priority to the use of hydrogen but, should this run out, it automatically switches to petrol power.

Unlike other hydrogen concept cars, the BMW Hydrogen 7 indicates the automaker’s milestone in the auto history. It is a full production ready vehicle, which has complied with all the stringent processes and final sign-off criteria that every current BMW product line undertakes.

Ever wondered why the automaker ventures on hydrogen fuel? The BMW Group has been committed to hydrogen technology as a means of limiting hazardous vehicle emissions, in particular carbon dioxide emissions, for over two decades. Unlike fossil fuels and conventional gasoline, hydrogen is available in virtually endless supply when renewable energies such as wind, solar and wave power are used to produce the liquid hydrogen which can be used as fuel.

Stored in a especially designed tank which keeps the fuel at a pressure of 3-5 bar and a constant temperature of –250°C, liquid hydrogen delivers significant advantages in energy density than other possible alternative fuel sources to improve the cruising range of the car.

The German automaker does not intend to come to a halt when it comes to developing efficient and powerful gasoline engines that considerably decrease fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Together with clean performance diesel cars and the technologically advanced hybrid systems currently under development, the automaker has a clear-cut strategy for sustainable mobility with hydrogen as the ultimate goal.

Source:  Amazines.com

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