BMW Hydrogen 7-series

Published: 04 June 2007

BMW is upping its green credentials with the delivery of a fleet of hydrogen-powered 7-series that will go on chauffeur duty throughout the UK this summer.

The eight production-ready Hydrogen 7 luxo-barges are produced on the same production line as the standard 7-series in Munich and meet all current safety and crash regulations. They form part of a 100-strong fleet of liquid hydrogen–powered 7-series models that spearhead BMW’s CleanEnergy programme, and in the UK will be used at high-profile events around the country to underline their environmental profile.

A hydrogen filling station has been developed in Wembley to support BMW’s plans. The dual-fuel Beemers are fitted with an 8kg hydrogen tank that stores the liquid hydrogen at around 4bar and a consistent temperature of –250°C. They run a 260hp 12-cylinder engine that will touch 62mph in 9.5 seconds and top out at 143mph while producing nothing more than water vapour as a by-product. A full tank equates to a range of around 125miles. And when you’re low on hydrogen, a quick toggle of a steering wheel-mounted button switches the engine to unleaded to boost range by a further 300miles.

BMW hopes that by solving the chicken-or-the-egg debate – do manufacturers produce hydrogen-ready cars first and wait for energy suppliers to respond, or should fuel suppliers take the first step and set up a hydrogen infrastructure? – it will catalyse the development of a hydrogen highway, the fuelling and infrastructure requirements that make hydrogen a viable fuel for the consumer.

Hydrogen may clean at the exhaust pipe but it’s a hugely volatile and corrosive gas, and its production is a hugely energy-intensive process. Which means a dirty great big power station is never far away.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars