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Tue Mar 29, 2016, 02:33 AM

While youíre charging your EV, BMW is preparing for a hydrogen future

Digital Trends | Ronan Glon | March 27, 2016

Digital Trends sat down with Merten Jung, BMWís head of fuel cell development, to get insight on where the technology stands today, what will change in the coming years, and when we can expect to see a hydrogen-powered car in a BMW showroom.

Digital Trends: BMW sells the all-electric i3 and several plug-in hybrid models. Why are you investing in fuel cell technology?

Merten Jung: Because a fuel cell drivetrain combines zero-emissions mobility with the fast refueling time thatís needed for long-distance driving. Moving forward, electric vehicles will have longer ranges thanks to advances in battery technology, but the refueling time wonít be competitive with that of a hydrogen-powered model. It takes about three to five minutes to top up a hydrogen tank, and then youíre set to go. We expect that battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell-electric vehicles will co-exist in the future, and plug-in hybrids are a simply a temporary solution until we get to that point.

DT: The biggest issue currently facing fuel cell vehicles is arguably the lack of an infrastructure. How will you overcome that?

There are initiatives in various countries to set up an infrastructure. In Germany, the government has plans to install 100 hydrogen stations by 2018, which is sufficient to set up an initial network, and there will be up to 400 additional stations by 2023; the final number will depend on how many hydrogen-powered vehicles are on the road by then. The advantage is that you can convert existing gas stations to hydrogen stations, so you can build the network step-by-step.


Which body style is best suited to receive a hydrogen drivetrain?

The bigger ones. The cost and the weight of an EV mainly depend on the size of the battery; if you have a small battery, electric makes more sense than hydrogen. The break-even point is 300-400 kilometers (186-248 miles). Beyond that, hydrogen makes more sense because you only need to make the tank larger. Itís not rocket science, and itís not very costly. The cost is in the fuel cell itself.

With an electric vehicle, if you want to go beyond 300-400 kilometers you need to make the battery pack bigger, heavier, and more expensive, and youíll reach a certain point where it wonít make sense anymore. The breakover point is pretty set in stone, too, because weíll be making a lot of progress in both battery technology and hydrogen drivetrains over the coming years...snip more:

Drive Mag: BMW Fuel Cell Insights | an Interview with Merten Jung

Mar 15, 2016: In Geneva, we spoke to Mr. Merten Jung, Head of BMW's Fuel Cell Development Team, about the future of alternative fuels, and especially hydrogen, at BMW.

In Deutschland - H2 is #1

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