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."