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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.

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Very inefficient
By ninjit on 11/23/06, Rating: 0
RE: Very inefficient
By Flunk on 11/23/2006 2:16:51 PM , Rating: 3
Actually the car has two different tanks as mentioned above "capacity is 74-litre (16.3 Imp gal) for gasoline and approximately 8 kilos (17.6 lb) of liquid hydrogen.". Since these are two entirely different fuels compareing them one to one is a bit silly but if we put calculate out the comparitive mass the 74 litres of gas weights about 100kg (1 litre of gas is about 1.356kg) and the hydrogen has a mass of 8kg. If we look at it solely by the mass consumed the hydrogen system is far more efficient.

RE: Very inefficient
By walk2k on 11/27/2006 1:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
Gas weighs about 6.5 lbs per gallon. So this car's gas tank weighs about 106 lbs when full. The hydrogen tank only weighs 18 lbs.

RE: Very inefficient
By cingkrab on 11/23/2006 2:24:40 PM , Rating: 3
I'd just like to point out that if you go to BMW's international website and look at the specs for the gas-only 6L V12, they state its fuel consumption is from 13.4l/100km to 13.6l/100km -- which works out to be 17.6mpg to 17.3 mpg. This is about the same as the dual mode V12. I'm not sure what miracles you were expecting in fuel economy from a 6 litre, 12 cylinder engine anyway. Notice no car that boasts great fuel economy would ever dream of using an engine with such a huge displacement.

RE: Very inefficient
By FITCamaro on 11/23/2006 6:11:53 PM , Rating: 1
Uh the 6.0L LS2 in the Corvette gets 29 mpg on the highway, 18 in the city, and makes 400 hp. And I've talked to plenty of guys who've gotten over 30 mpg with the 6 speed. Heard about one guy with a supercharged LS1 Corvette and he got 35 mpg on the highway (granted with different tuning on the street than the track).

Hell the 7.0L LS7 in the new Corvette Z06 gets 26 mpg highway and like 15 city. Granted you have to keep your foot out of it. As far as car's I've driven, my dads 2002 Trans Am WS6 6-speed gets 17 mpg city and 27-28 mpg highway and has 330hp. For comparison my 06 Cobalt SS Coupe 5-speed with a 2.4L I4 and 170 hp gets 26-28 city and 30-32 highway. Obviously a good bit better city but highway wise, the two are about the same. If I could afford the Vette, I'd trade the mileage for the power. Especially since I mostly do highway driving.

High horsepower and displacement does not equal poor gas mileage. It's all in the gearing, weight, and tuning.

RE: Very inefficient
By Tsuwamono on 11/23/2006 9:12:06 PM , Rating: 3
Also isnt running dual mode with hydrogen... Stick to PCs and dont hurt your brain thinking about Cars.

RE: Very inefficient
By cingkrab on 11/23/2006 11:49:37 PM , Rating: 3
What exactly is your point? The Corvette weighs about 440 kg less than the 7 series. It also has a 8 cylinder engine as opposed to the 12 cylinder engine I (and the article) references. The 8 cylinder engine used with the 7 series gets comparable figures to yours (17 city, 25 highway). If you want a fair mileage comparison, choose a comparable sedan that uses a 12-cylinder engine.

RE: Very inefficient
By FITCamaro on 11/24/06, Rating: 0
RE: Very inefficient
By cingkrab on 11/24/2006 1:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
How did you prove my statement wrong? 18/29 or 15/26 mpg is NOT great fuel economy. If it is, most large sedans on the market would have "great fuel economy" as defined by you. The 7-series V8 I pointed out, in fact, gets close to your figures and would have "great fuel economy", again by your definition. Show me a car with a 6L 12-cylinder (or even 8-cylinder) engine that gets say, 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway (which fairly mediocre in absolute terms), and that'll be closer to the mark.

RE: Very inefficient
By FITCamaro on 11/24/2006 11:10:29 PM , Rating: 2
People with LS2 GTO 6-speeds are getting over 20 mpg in the city and around 28 mpg highway. And my point is that smaller engines in other cars get the same mileage. Why do I want to buy a V6 with 200 hp when I can get a V8 with 400 hp that gets the same mileage or really close. And with aftermarket tuning, people have gotten even better mileage.

Granted good mileage is subjective. 20 mpg city and 30 highway is good to me. Especially for a 400 hp V8.

RE: Very inefficient
By cingkrab on 11/25/2006 2:07:39 AM , Rating: 1
OK, thanks. Here's what I've garnered so far in your posts:

1) You love Corvettes (probably Chevy in general, given your nickname).

2) The LS2 can get relatively good fuel economy in its segment, but is relatively mediocre compared to other cars. This was, by the way, the point I made in the original post -- that the original poster should not be expecting any miracles in fuel economy from a 6L V12. The LS2 may be able to get good fuel economy relative to other cars in its class, but not in absolute terms. Similarly, the V12 used in the BMW 7 series will not be able to get good fuel economy in absolute terms either.

3) You're willing to put up with mediocre fuel economy in order because you want the extra horses.

So I'm still uncertain as to why you've emphasized these points in particular? I don't think it makes really any headway towards disputing my post saying that cars with great fuel economy do not use these huge engines -- for a reason.

RE: Very inefficient
By Chaser on 11/25/2006 10:37:24 AM , Rating: 3
28MPG is far from relatively mediocre gas mileage in ANY segment thank you. And its incredible in a high performance sports car.

Leave the Prius' out of it.

RE: Very inefficient
By cingkrab on 11/26/2006 5:17:39 AM , Rating: 2
I am not disputing 28 MPG highway is good in a sports car. But I have to dispute that 28 MPG highway is "far from relatively mediocre ... in ANY segment". Numerous cars best 28 MPG highway. Here's a selection:

- Honda Accord
- Toyota Camry
- Nissan Altima
- Chevy Malibu
- Kia Optima

These are midsized cars, and many compact cars outperform these in mileage. So what does that make 28 MPG highway? Yes, mediocre.

RE: Very inefficient
By walk2k on 11/26/2006 8:45:15 PM , Rating: 2
What kind of mileage does it get on hydrogen and what is the cost per MPG? I assume this hydrogen stuff is still very very expensive and probably costs more than gas per MPG - though prices should come down as supply & demand kicks in.

Oh and 35mpg in a Vette huh? Bull-#@$%! I barely get that in my 4-cyl Acura. What did you do, start at the top of a 1-mile hill and coast down it? Nice try!

RE: Very inefficient
By flurazepam on 11/28/2006 4:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
"High horsepower and displacement does not equal poor gas mileage. It's all in the gearing, weight, and tuning."

No, not really. If only it were that simple. My Z06 does not turn in that kind of mileage ~14mpg city (easy on the throttle), and low 20's on the highway (again easy on the throttle); under heavy acceleration the car consumes fuel like there was no tomorrow. Large displacement gasoline engines generally consume copious quantities of fuel regardless.

In response to the general comments about the inefficiency of the BMW V12, I think the point is moot. This obviously is an exercise to introduce and showcase Hydrogen as an alternative fuel source to the masses. Expensive luxury cars generally receive updated technologies first due to the premium that the technology commands. Furthermore, the economies of scale are not yet there to mass release a more affordable vehicle with those capabilities. Neither the alternative fuel source infrastructure nor has the public acceptance of this new technology come into place yet.
To quickly downplay this vehicle's current mileage and capabilities is unfair given the infancy of this technology for public consumption (i.e. not previous test bed vehicles). I applaud companies that step away from gasoline dependence. Frankly, our planet can't take it much longer. My 2 cents.

RE: Very inefficient
By ceefka on 11/27/2006 6:22:07 PM , Rating: 2
Fuel consumption won't mean as much, environmentally speaking, when you're burning hydrogen. The question would be: Can you afford it?

RE: Very inefficient
By jp7189 on 11/28/2006 12:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
sure the mpg is about the same.. but mpg per HP is about half in the hybrid engine... that's terrible efficiency.

RE: Very inefficient
By Marcus Yam on 11/23/2006 3:15:02 PM , Rating: 5
I think that intent of using hydrogen fuel is to cut down on emissions and our dependency on fossil fuels... not to maximize range. If it's range you are looking for, then a hybrid diesel is what you want.

RE: Very inefficient
By Justin Case on 11/23/2006 3:55:38 PM , Rating: 4
The reason why European diesel cars often fail the emissions testing in the US is not that US environmental regulations are stricter, contrary to what the current administration wants people to believe. It's just that in the USA, fuel regulations are pretty lax. In other words, car manufacturers have to jump through extra hoops because the oil lobby has managed to make extremely dirty fuel legal. If the oil companies were subject to the same regulations as in the rest of the world, European and Japanese diesels would be just as clean as they are in Europe and Japan (which is still not as clean as hydrogen, of course, but it's a lot better than when you run them on US diesel).

The advantage of hydrogen over electric is that you can use both on the same engine, and don't need to carry heavy batteries around (and remember that lithium batteries will die after about 4 years, and are very expensive to replace, not to mention hard to recycle). In other words, a gas-hydrogen hybrid is simpler than a gas-electric hybrid. But electric motors do have some great advantages (the main problem is energy storage).

Coal plants no _not_ pollute more than cars. A typical coal plant has an energy efficiency of 35-45%, while cars are between 5% and 30%. Fission plants have lower efficiency but also _much_ lower pollution (but again, thanks to the oil lobby, everyone thinks nuclear plants are the work of the devil).

In other words, the lowest emissions (not counting water vapour) would be achieved by using electric cars, and producing that electricity in nuclear plants. The main problems with that are energy storage (batteries are terribly inefficient compared to fossil fuels) and the irrational fear that some people have of nuclear plants (which actually release _less_ radiation than your average coal plant).

RE: Very inefficient
By FITCamaro on 11/23/2006 6:16:50 PM , Rating: 2
It's mainly the environmentalists who are against nuclear power plants. I don't ever see any oil executives out at Cape Canaveral protesting against launching nuclear powered satellites. Or protesting at all about nuclear power plants. No the oil industry just pays off politicians (Democrats and Republicans alike) not to build nuclear plants if anything.

RE: Very inefficient
By Justin Case on 2/15/2007 11:55:04 PM , Rating: 2
Most "environmentalists" are ignorant idealists that are easily manipulated. Of course the oil lobbies pay off politicians, but the perception that people have of nuclear power as "bad" comes mainly from the high-visibility, low-IQ pseudo-environmentalist mobs.

RE: Very inefficient
By Pete84 on 11/24/2006 2:10:02 AM , Rating: 2
It's not just the U.S. diesel that is sub par, our gasoline is also of considerably poorer quality than European stock. Any vigilant viewer of either Top Gear or Fifth Gear is well acquainted with those show's opinions of our "watered down petrol."

However, and it's a big however, I'm more than willing to give up the extra performance provided by the good go juice in favor of our considerably lower prices. Yes, you do get what you pay for, but sometimes it worth it to pay less.

RE: Very inefficient
By Spoelie on 11/24/2006 4:56:38 AM , Rating: 4
The high gasoline prices in europe are much more a consequence of heavy taxation then increased purity.

The purity and heavy taxation are both consequences of more environment friendly policies, which came about with the 70's oil crisis. Pure gasoline burns much cleaner and high gasoline prices demotivates driving inefficient gas guzzlers and means only taking the car out when it's necessary, not when going to the bakery a 100 yards away.

The typical european car is a 100-130bhp 1.9 diesel that gets between 35 and 50mpg easily, and I'm not talking about highway only but mixed.

RE: Very inefficient
By Burning Bridges on 11/24/2006 3:26:19 PM , Rating: 2
You miss one huge problem with nuclear power - it isn't clean. It results in dangerous substances that don't degrade in any meaningful sense of the word, and that cannot be recycled, except to make weapons.

RE: Very inefficient
By Justin Case on 2/15/2007 11:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
It's cleaner than any other viable power source (sorry, solar doesn't count - it's great if you have a huge estate with 3 people living there, not if you have an apartment building with 300), and all the "dirty" byproducts are neatly contained - the only thing a nuclear plant releases into the atmosphere is steam.

The nuclear residues (of which there is an extremely small amount) can be reprocessed and used as fuel in other nuclear plants. The cost of reprocessing and safe storage (for, say, 300 years) can be factored into the cost of the plants, and they're still cheaper than other power sources.

In 300 years, if we haven't learned to fully recycle those residues, we should at least have cheap enough launch technology to just shoot them into the Sun.

The problems with nuclear power are political (it eats into the profits of the established energy lobbies), not technical.

As long as....
By Meaker10 on 11/23/2006 1:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
All the energy comes from renewable sources is the biggy, or storing the liquid hydrogen uses up much more energy usually from coal powerplants that pollute more.

RE: As long as....
By GreenEnvt on 11/23/2006 1:27:10 PM , Rating: 4
I think you mean separating the hydrogen, not storing it.
Storing it doesn't use much energy, but splitting it from say water, takes a long.

RE: As long as....
By JohnnyCNote on 11/23/2006 5:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
All the energy comes from renewable sources is the biggy, or storing the liquid hydrogen uses up much more energy usually from coal powerplants that pollute more.

The solution is to create a large enough supply of hydrogen so that it could be used as a fuel to create more hydrogen, and then phase out the other, more polluting and less efficient means of producing the gas. Let's also remember that this technology is in its infancy, so it's much too premature to make any definite conclusions.

Hydrogen two things going for it:
1: its only byproduct is water vapor, which can be captured if there are problems with releasing it into the atmosphere. Beyond that, the cars, trucks, etc., can be made of more recyclable materials to reduce waste.
2: the supply is essentially infinite. If we run out of hydrogen, we'll have a lot more to worry about than how to fuel our cars.....

RE: As long as....
By Howard on 11/23/2006 10:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
The solution is to create a large enough supply of hydrogen so that it could be used as a fuel to create more hydrogen,

How can this be achieved?

RE: As long as....
By Madzombie on 11/24/2006 6:41:09 AM , Rating: 2
Simple: creation of energy.

RE: As long as....
By Burning Bridges on 11/24/2006 3:40:48 PM , Rating: 2

I'll see your creation of energy and raise you one perpetual motion machine.

RE: As long as....
By ghost101 on 11/24/2006 4:06:09 PM , Rating: 2
Lol, exactly. The guy is suggesting something that would result in a perpetual motion machine.

RE: As long as....
By JohnnyCNote on 11/27/2006 12:45:13 AM , Rating: 2
The solution is to create a large enough supply of hydrogen so that it could be used as a fuel to create more hydrogen,

"How can this be acheived?"

At first, probably by using existing methods to create a supply of hydrogen to provide a supply sufficient enough to replace the current source of energy. At that point, it could be phased in until it's used as a primary sourced of energy to create more hydrogen.

If I remember my high school chemistry, hydrogen & oxygen can be separated from water using an electrolysis (I think that's the right term) process. Perhaps this could be performed on a massive scale, using hydrogen fuel cells.

It would be up to the engineers to devise the best methods for accomplishing this, but I see no reason why it can't be made to work....

Hydrogen later; Electric now.
By BrassMonkey on 11/23/06, Rating: 0
RE: Hydrogen later; Electric now.
By Marlowe on 11/23/2006 3:33:42 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. Electric is here now. Hydrogen is nothing but a carrot wich we will never reach.


RE: Hydrogen later; Electric now.
By AnnihilatorX on 11/23/2006 4:35:54 PM , Rating: 1
My lithum battery on my laptop has just 50% capacity as it was 4 years ago...

RE: Hydrogen later; Electric now.
By FITCamaro on 11/23/2006 6:19:22 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. And if a lithium ion battery for a laptop is $100-200, just imagine what ones cost that are big enough to store energy for a car. Not to mention, what do we do with all those dead lithium batteries. Then we'll have the environmentalists yelling at us for polluting the Earth with thrown out car batteries containing toxic substances.

RE: Hydrogen later; Electric now.
By number999 on 11/23/2006 7:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
You may get 250 miles per charge with lithium batteries but I think there are huge negative effects with using lithium batteries even with the higher energy densities and relative lightness compared to NiMH.

One of the worst is that from the moment of production. Li-ion batteries start to die.

The EV1 got 100 miles per charge using NiMH. Fuel cells are not that efficient anyway having comparable efficiencies to combustion. The worst thing about this system is that it's liquid hydrogen, which is hard to manipulate and use. Frankly, I don't see this as a viable option at all. Where they expect to lease the cars for testing I don't know? Maybe NASA or something because the handling of liquid hydrogen is way too complicated for normal use.

By the way, being an environmentalist doesn't mean that you're a rabid fanatical unrealistic person, which some people in these blogs like tagging that label to.

Buy a diesel, skip bathroom breaks
By chaosrain on 11/23/2006 2:28:31 PM , Rating: 1
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.

Now they just need to put "collection equipment" in the passenger compartment and we can keep on trucking on our road trips without stopping the car. It's a bit of an oxymoron to buy an "ultimate driving machine" only to pee in it, but it'll give you warm fuzzys about protecting the environment while extending your road trip endurance.

Next someone should make barf processing cars for those who get car sick and we'll be able to be super eco-friendly.

By ADDAvenger on 11/23/2006 3:46:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I caught that too, they're probably thinking that stuff doesn't get any cheaper than pee, so why not use it as an additive or catalyst or something if you can.

I think it's just too weird, it will never catch on because people will be weirded out.

Electric Future
By bigbrent88 on 11/24/2006 1:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
I read in a PopSci mag that the future for electric cars lies in super-capacitors, whatever form they take in the future, along with batteries, power-regeneration, and possibly micro turbine generators. Capacitors give you a powerful boost without the gas engine, batteries are your normal energy storage(many new ideas in the future), and turbines can run ANY fuel and with the right systems can achieve 30+% efficiency for those longer trips where you just cant plug in. Combine the best of these technologies in the decades it will take for this "hydrogen economy" and you've got a fast, efficient, clean car. Or so I think

By SilthDraeth on 11/23/2006 1:08:23 PM , Rating: 1
Hopefully it becomes mainstream, and cost equivalent or cheaper than gasoline.

Just Halo engineering
By Beenthere on 11/23/06, Rating: -1
"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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