BMW will begin testing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle co-developed with Toyota soon, according to a report from AutoCar, but BMW executives are still betting on electric.
BMW has developed several interesting innovations meant to solve the problems of price and storage. By teaming up with Toyota, BMW is hopefuly it can actually make an affordable and viable production vehicle that runs on hydrogen.
But according to BMW marketing chief Ian Robertson, the problem with hydrogen isn’t with the cars themselves, but the fuelling infrastructure.
“We’ve said we’ll continue to invest in hydrogen and that will result in a small number of production test vehicles being made to prove the technology works,” Robertson to AutoCar. “The real issues lie not around what we can do, though, but whether the infrastructure can be built up to supply hydrogen in the marketplace cost-effectively.”
According to Robertson, advances in lithium-ion, lithium-air, and solid-state batteries could eliminate range and charging anxiety as an issue for plug-in cars. As Tesla has already done, BMW is rolling out a fast-charging network to support plug-in cars, the Car of the Year i3 and Top Gear Car of the year i8.
Infrastructure for hydrogren fuel cell cars by comparison is more expensive and difficult to transport and store.
However, in a recent interview with Bloomberg Business, Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor’s president and the member of the automaker’s founding family, says there’s room for both plug-in electrics and hydrogen fuel cell cars; he dismisses doubters. “Fifteen years ago they said the same thing about the Prius,” he says. “Since then, if you consider all [our] hybrid brands, we have sold 7 million of them.”
Toyoda sees the evolution of the car as nowhere near finished. By the time hydrogen rivals fossil fuels, he envisions even more dynamic radar systems, high-resolution lasers, and predictive data systems reducing traffic fatalities. Above all, he sees the fuel-cell car as the catalyst, as he puts it, in the “creation of a hydrogen society.”