Even with hydrogen, it's still a Bangle design - Image courtesy BMW NA

The dual-mode powerplant with 12 cylinders - Image courtesy BMW NA

Dual-mode engine calls for dual fuel doors - Image courtesy BMW NA

Hydrogen fueling calls for a fat pipe - Image courtesy BMW NA
Bayerische Motoren Werke makes a car that produces vapor, and isn't vaporware

The new BMW Hydrogen 7, which DailyTech first mentioned in September, will make its world debut at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. The car started production on November 13, and is being produced in a limited series will be sold to selected drivers worldwide in 2007. It is equipped with an internal combustion engine capable of running either on hydrogen or on gasoline and based on the BMW 7 Series.

The Hydrogen 7 is powered by a 260 hp twelve-cylinder engine and accelerates from 0-100 km/h (0-62.1 mph) in 9.5 seconds. Top speed is limited electronically to 143 mph, as is the case with many cars from BMW. For comparison, the petrol-only 6L V12 found in the 760Li outputs a maximum 438 hp and 444 lb-ft of torque for a 0-100 km/h time of 5.7 seconds; and the petrol 4.8L V8 pushes out 360 for both hp and torque figures, accelerating the 750i from 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.

The Hydrogen 7 also features a dual-mode power unit that can switch quickly and conveniently from hydrogen to conventional premium gasoline at the touch of a button. Engine power and torque remain the same regardless of the mode of operation, so switching from one mode to another has no effect on the driving behavior and performance of the BMW Hydrogen 7.

Because there is not yet a full network of hydrogen filling stations in the United States, the BMW Hydrogen 7 features dual-mode drive technology gives a combined cruising range of over 400 miles – the hydrogen mode gives more than 125 miles, with another 300 miles in the gasoline mode. Fuel capacity is 74-litre (16.3 Imp gal) for gasoline and approximately 8 kilos (17.6 lb) of liquid hydrogen. The control system in BMW Hydrogen 7 gives priority to the use of hydrogen; and should one of the two types of fuel be fully consumed, the system will automatically switch over to the other type of fuel.

By using hydrogen produced from water and renewable energy, such as wind, sun or hydropower, in an internal combustion engine, the car's emissions in hydrogen mode are essentially nothing but vapor, allowing the water cycle to start again.

The knowledge gained in the PDP has not only made a decisive contribution to the everyday driving qualities of the BMW Hydrogen 7, but it will also significantly impact the development and production of future hydrogen vehicle concepts, with the principle of dual-mode drive and the features of other components now going through the strict test of everyday driving practice.

While BMW demonstrates a working and viable hydrogen-powered vehicle with the Hydrogen 7, the carmaker still estimates that the complete change from a fossil fuel infrastructure to a hydrogen economy will require decades. BMW views its Hydrogen 7 as a ‘pilot’ vehicle, and any data gathered from everyday driving will significantly impact the development and production of future hydrogen vehicle concepts for all carmakers, not just the one from Munich.

A production version of the BMW Hydrogen 7 will be on display for the first time for public eyes at the Los Angeles Auto Show December 1-10. Click here to view videos of the Hydrogen 7 on the road, the refueling process, engine animation and interview clips. Edmunds also has a writeup from one of the first test-drives of the new vehicle.

In other clean vehicle news, other German carmakers DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen and Audi announced that they would reveal at the auto show details on a “BLUETEC” alliance to help popularize diesel engine technology into North America. BLUETEC is being promoted as the world's cleanest diesel technology, using filters and clever chemistry to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

BMW declined to join its fellow countrymen in the BLUETEC crusade, saying that it has no current plans to offer its diesels in Bluetec form in North America. BMW is still investigating diesels that would satisfy California emissions, but first wants to develop a urea-based technology to reduce nitrogen oxides before considering a sustained entry into the U.S. diesel market, Reuters reports. “We are in the process of thinking of a name that is different from BLUETEC,” a spokesman for BMW said.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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