Fuel-cell-powered BMW i8 may soon be a reality

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 7, 2016

Toyota and BMW continue to fund and develop hydrogen fuel cell technology even as they remain on the race to build electric vehicles. Global warming has been one of the most pre-dominant issues in our society today. With a growing population and greater demand for technologies that are both cheap and efficient, companies are rushing to become the first ones to create environment friendly technologies.

Vehicles have been pinpointed as one of the main contributors of global warming and its emissions are known to have adverse effects to the O-Zone layer. Once fossil fuels like petroleum or diesel are burned to power our vehicles, carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere, slowly boring a hole into our O-Zone layer that protects us from the harmful rays of the sun.

Aside from Global warming, fuel prices have also gone high as demand for more vehicles are also increasing. Moreover, increases in the number of vehicles also mean an increase for the demand in fuel. However, oil companies are now having a hard time to meet these demands so now automakers are in the process of researching alternative ways to power their vehicles.

Currently, most of the automakers are on the race to create electric powered vehicles. But while other automakers are creating electric cars, BMW and Toyota have teamed up to create something different. The two companies are now trying to develop both electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

According to BMW’s fuel cell director Merten Jung, they are currently working on hydrogen fuel cell drivetrains and are targeting production by 2020. BMW has developed the 2012 BMW i8 into a much better and hydrogen fuelled version.

The prototype was first introduced at the BMW Group Innovation Days 2015. It now has a lightweight, carbon fiber body and aerodynamic body parts. Instead of a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine, it now has a fuel stack that is powered by a cylinder tank containing cryogenically-stowed hydrogen and oxygen from the air.

The fuel stacks power the research vehicle by providing electricity to a rear-mounted motor, generating an output of 242 horsepower. The good thing here is, instead of emitting CO2, it now emits water. How’s that for environment friendliness?

Toyota, on the other hand, has also developed a fuel cell technology that is better than its Prius hybrid. Aside from its hydrogen fuel cell technology, the said vehicle is attracting attention because of its unique design. There hasn’t been a name announced for the hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle but the production version will be up for sale in Japan this April. It is reported that the vehicle will have a starting price of seven million yen or more or less $638,000.

It is expected to go overseas to Europe and the U.S. next summer but no official prices have been announced yet. There haven’t been any releases for the vehicle’s specs yet but the Japanese automaker says that it will have a driving range similar to a gasoline fuelled car.

Just like the new BMW i8, it will emit water instead of carbon dioxide from the tailpipe. Moreover, it will refuel in only three minutes. There are some disadvantages to this technology like the lack of hydrogen stations and the expense in producing these cars; however, it also has a lot of advantages such as a lighter drivetrain weight (because it will no longer use batteries to power the vehicle), a shorter fill up time as compared to the charging time of an electric car, and most importantly, its role in the fight against global warming.

Source: DigitalTrends
Topics: bmw, bmw i8, fuel cell

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