BMW Halts 7 Series Hydrogen Vehicle Real World Testing Program

photo credit: Nick Humphries. (

photo credit: Nick Humphries. (

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Is hydrogen dead?  According to BMW, real world testing of the 7 Series Hydrogen vehicle is at least dead for now.  The company has decided to halt real-world testing of the 7 Series Hydrogen vehicles citing a lack of infrastructure and high conversion costs of the newly introduced 7 Series as the reason to end the on road test program.

The 7 Series hydrogen test program has logged more than 2 million accumulative miles to date in the hands of 100 selected individuals.  The two year test program will come to a halt early next year.  Though BMW does see promise in hydrogen technology, they do not see widespread support or necessary infrastructure components to make hydrogen a reality any time soon.

The 7 Series hydrogen vehicles will continue to undergo testing in a controlled environment.  BMW will test the vehicles on test tracks and in labs environment, but real-world driving will no longer be a part of the program.

Additional rumors have circulated around Europe for some time now stating that BMW will abandon hydrogen completely, but BMW North America spokesman David Buchko denies the rumors.  Buchko said, "The road test program is closing because a new 7-Series was introduced this year and BMW doesn't see the need to go to the expense of converting hundreds of models to use a hydrogen engine when there is still no meaningful hydrogen fueling infrastructure to supply them.  With 100 on the road globally since 2007, we've shown what can be done; we've logged over 2 million miles. But with no infrastructure it's hard to move forward."

With only 200 hydrogen stations worldwide and many reserved for military, government, and commercial use, support for hydrogen vehicles is virtually non-existent.  Coupled with other difficulties such as hydrogen storage, the temperature requirements of the liquid hydrogen used in the BMW vehicle, and a reduction of horsepower by nearly 40 % compared to gasoline, the 7 Series hydrogen vehicle is simply too complex, costly, and inefficient to be considered as a replacement for gasoline or diesel vehicles in the companies lineup.

But as Buchko said, "We are still very much working on hydrogen power and hydrogen internal combustion engines."


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Comments (10)
  1. Eric,
    BMW has already dismissed the reports in the german media ... for example they will further test their hydrogen vehicles within the framework of the "clean energy partnership" (a public-private partnership funded by the german national government)in Berlin. Furthermore, they invest considerably in a new hydrogen storage methof called "cryo-compressed" hydrogen.
    And to make the media reports on a stop of the BMW hydrogen program really funny ... just look in a nationwide German newspaper such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung .. there will you find virtually each second day a commercial where they praise their hydrogen efforts.

  2. Your article title is factually incorrect. The BMW Hydrogen 7's are hydrogen INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE vehicles not fuel cell vehicles.
    Furthermore, research continues on hydrogen storage and delivery.

  3. I am relieved to hear that BMW is still pursuing this tech, because it is a very cheap way for people to buy hydrogen vehicles today, so that a hydrogen infrastructure could be feasible.

  4. That's a shame that they've decided to put a halt on the program the same thing happened in the U.S. when the Big three got wind of the asian market working on an electric car they got government grants developed the cars an scrapped the whole project an now the asian market is eating their breakfast here we are ten years later an the American market still has no car that it can stand behind well maybe the volt but that car cant make it up a slight hill without cutting out on them how embarrassing.

  5. And the Kiss of Death - "...reduction of horsepower by nearly 40% compared to gasoline..."

    Not to mention that the most abundant and easily accessible source of Hydrogen is.....hydrocarbon fuels - - Oil that is, black gold, Texas Tea....Well, the next thing you know old Jeb's a millionaire....

  6. It was a pretty pleasant idea to have a car that would run on water. But the powers that be decided rightly that over the large scale, taking our world's water, lysing it and burning it is probably not a good idea. After you decide you are not going to run cars on water, the concept collapses. In theory, Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the galaxy. But there is none freely available around here.

  7. This was BMW's ongoing "green" program. It doesn't seem to be worth the money any more for the "green mileage" BMW is getting out of it, now that BMW is going the electrification route. "Hydrogen infrastructure issues" is simply a recognition that hydrogen was never a fuel, but an expensive manufactured energy carrier.
    Sometimes the difference is hard to visualize so picture this.
    The first oil companies used kerosene to replace whale oil. The oil was first scraped from natural pools on the ground, and they dumped the waste products (gasoline) back onto the ground. As more oil was sold, the gasoline on the ground flowed into the surrounding rivers (pity the foolish dockworkers who stopped to smoke). Small river fires would become so common that they came to be considered normal, just too ordinary to even report in the local papers. Later the popularity of autos gave oil men a place to put the gasoline, and made them vastly wealthier.
    With that stated, have you ever seen hydrogen scraped from pools on the ground, or leap out of pipes under tremendous pressure, from within billion barrel underground reservoirs?
    Zefriend and Jimbo great points!!!

  8. If hydrogen is so great, why doesn't anyone seem to be using it to replace an existing natural gas infrastructure?
    For instance, my house is currently heated by a natural gas furnace, with a natural-gas powered hot-water heater, and a natural-gas powered dryer. If hydrogen actually were plentiful and environmentally friendly, it seems like the obvious place to start using it would be to replace natural gas and propane. Converting home heating and appliances would be a much less costly than to change than converting cars. The infrastructure can already handle gaseous fuels, and all you really need to do is change the nozzles on all of the appliances, in order to get the right fuel-air mixture for hydrogen, just like you can change many appliances between natural gas and propane.
    Oh, right, the hydrogen that we're using today is reformed natural gas...

  9. The EPA suggested in the new rule that it intends to eventually take power source emissions into account when calculating electric vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions.

  10. A few thoughts.
    1. BMW chose to test LIQUID hydrogen, requiring cryogenic storage while all other hydrogen cars use compressed hydrogen. They had ONE station to refuel at.. Oxnard. Ending the LA "test" was inevitable.
    2. Burning Hydrogen with Internal Combustion is the worst way to use it. Very inefficient, note power loss. This is why every other automaker is using it in fuel cells for electric cars, no combustion and very efficient. A chemical reaction not combustion.
    3. As they said, "shown what can be done". Test programs are valuable, lead to other advances but certainly no reason to conclude anything is "dead". Bad journalism and research.
    4. "Jimbo" comment above simply shows his ignorance, says Hydrogen comes from petroleum. Not true, none does. Why do you think it is called an "Alt Fuel"?Reforming methane (natural gas) or biomethane running thru a fuel cell still offers over 60% CO2 reduction compared to ICE car. Electrolysis of water using solar (just like solar to charge an EV) offers zero CO2, 250 ~ 350 mile range and 5 minute refueling.
    5. There is room for multiple technologies that achieve the societal goals we all seek. Plug-In's, BEV's and hydrogen fuel cells too.
    6. Oh yeah, and for "Luke" above, you could blend up to 20% hydrogen in those natural gas pipelines, few changes needed. But again you don't want to use Hydrogen for combustion. Natural gas works fine for that. H2 with Fuel Cell is the key.

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