BMW Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Still Under Development


The company is working on the technology in close cooperation with its motorsport division.

About a year ago, we heard about BMW’s plans to bring a production fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) on sale by 2021. It was then revealed by company CEO Harald Krueger that ‘larger model series and long distances’ are planned, but the manufacturer remained tight-lipped about the project during the next 12 months or so.

Now, through the voice of its Motorsport Director, Jens Marquardt, who spoke exclusively to our partners, the Bavarian brand has confirmed it’s still on track with the development of the technology for this vehicle. When asked about the future of the fuel cell tech and whether it will be reserved only for motorsport or will eventually reach mass production, Marquardt replied:

“This is what we’re developing the technology for. We don’t develop the technology to go racing and not have anything… it’s for production. And we’re looking at what we’re doing for production, for serious projects. Is there anything we can transfer or use racing as a development lab.”

He gave Formula E as an example of how the technologies developed for racing could be implemented into road cars.

‘If you look at Formula E right now, that was for us over the last two years a technology hub to develop the high performance electric motor that will in December run in Riyadh in our Formula E car. We’ve done that very closely with our production development engineers so that we have a maximum transfer into our next models. We have had a very good transfer of developments, ideas, and findings.’

Marquardt even hinted about the possible launch date for the production FCEV from BMW. It won’t come before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, when Toyota, a strategic partner of the German carmaker in the fuel cell development, will launch a small series of FCEVs. Simply put, ‘from our point of view for sure it’s going to be in the mid-2020s.’

Categories: BMW


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46 Comments on "BMW Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Still Under Development"

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Oh that’s a relief, for a moment there I thought BMW got some sense and decided to shelve the project indefinitely, but thanks BMW for not disappointing me.

TM3x2 Chris

“from our point of view for sure it’s going to be in the mid-2020s” – that’s enough time for BMW to release a few successful BEVs and forget about fuel cell all together.


Poor Hydrogen, always a solution in search of a problem. Hydrogen will preserve the filling station infrastructure. Why won’t that be more important than the fact BEVs are four times more energy efficient than FCEVs? About half of the energy going into a fuel cell is converted to waste heat. Better than the 80% waste heat for ICE vehicles, but still silly from an engineering viewpoint. I thought Germans were better at math.

TM3x2 Chris

Yes, what is BMW up to? We know they are good at engineering, why would they go down this rabbit hole?

Mister G

I recall reading a book “the hydrogen economy” in the year 2000 and nothing significant has happened. If hydrogen were cleaner and more efficient than battery electric vehicles teslas would be hydrogen powered BELIEVE ME CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS THANKS CO2.EARTH


Fuel cells have longer range with less weight and faster fill times.

BoltEV (was SparkEV)

How do you explain Mirai weighs about 400 lb more than Bolt?


…and… Mirai is a 4-seat car. Driver+3 passengers

Chri O

…and 260LBs more than Model 3 that has the same range?


So do gasmobiles. If range and weight are what you value, rather than using renewable energy or energy efficiency or reducing pollution, then go buy a gasmobile.

On the other hand, if using renewable energy or energy efficiency or reducing pollution are important to you, then you absolutely should buy a BEV, and not even think about fool cell cars.

Fool cell cars are only for greenwashers who want to pretend to be green while still supporting Big Oil.


Today’s conversion of fossil gas to hydrogen is of course crazy – I think we can all agree on that.
But in some European countries on occasion renewables (and inflexible power generation such as nuclear) turn electricity prices negative from time to time. Batteries such as the Tesla battery in Australia can take some of the excess and store it for a time of the day when it is needed, but for high capacity long term storage, either hydro or power to gas is needed. Hydro is only for certain locations, which leaves power-to-gas, either hydrogen or methane.
If hydrogen generation can catch the cheap excess electricity (like a reverse peaker plant), then it does not really matter that FCEV’s are inefficient compared to BEV’s.
As more renewables are added to the grid, more high capacity conversion and storage will be needed, making this even more feasible.


That’s what I used to think, until I learned that electrolysis cells are too expensive to make them competitive even when using free electricity… Other types of demand response seem way more promising.


Good luck with finding some magic way to change the fundamental nature of the pernicious hydrogen molecule. I don’t need to read all those websites promoting the “hydrogen economy” hoax to know there isn’t one.

There may be a future in FCEVs, but it certainly isn’t with using hydrogen as a fuel.



Here is commercial electrolysis already more efficient than indicated on the insideev forum.

Another nice project aiming to make hydrogen more economical and green


I notice how few of those links are even related to road vehicles… Yes, there might be niches where hydrogen makes sense — but road transport is not one of them.


Your figures are kind of skewed 🙂

If all losses are accounted for (and, to wit, the BEV is lossy – which you would find out if you charged your EV at a station that logs the number of kWh dispensed by comparing the figure to what your EV battery gained during charging —-

FCEV: from the source of H2 to where “rubber meets the road” (call it ‘RMR’) it’s about 50%

ICE: from the source of gasoline to RMR it’s 15-20%

BEV: from the source of electricity to RMR it’s 60-70% – a lot better than FCEV, but not 4 times.


Yeah, he did exaggerate there a bit. BEVs are more like 3x to 3.5x more energy efficient than fool cell cars, not 4x.

Timothy Hughbanks

Hydrogen produced by water splitting would be a terrific source of reducing equivalents to replace equivalents produced from steam reforming of methane or from CO obtained from coal or methane via water-gas-shift chemistry. That would be great for chemicals, but in the transportation sector I can’t see how hydrogen will ever work out – batteries will bury it.


Fuel cells can work in trucks and buses, reform renewable methane with contracts at point of dispensing.

Timothy Hughbanks

It can work, I suppose, but the supply of renewable methane will remain comparatively small. Also, methane leakage rates are starting to look unacceptably high, whatever the source.


Water treatment plants put methane in the natural gas pipes, the contracts buy the methane and reform.


And that will power just how much of our national transportation fleet? 1%? 2%?

We need a solution to replace gasmobiles and diesel trucks for 90-95% of the fleet, not just a niche of a niche market.


“And that will power just how much of our national transportation fleet? 1%? 2%?”

More like 7% in case of FCEV fleet, at least in California. Don’t know exact numbers, but you certainly don’t care and don’t change your mind anyway. You can of course just burn that renewable methane together with natural gas, or release it to atmosphere as it is often done now.

“We need a solution to replace gasmobiles and diesel trucks for 90-95% of the fleet, not just a niche of a niche market.”

Yes, and current Li Ion technology is obviously not capable to replace 90-95% of the transport fleet, especially heavier vehicles. Then you have energy use for heating and industry, if you want to go beyond road transport niche.

Meanwhile California pays extra for Arizona to shut down their solar to take surplus solar electricity. The same is everywhere with higher share of solar/wind power generation, even if the overall solar/wind share is still quite low. Especially when you count whole energy use over whole network, not just some cherry picked “gated neighborhood” region relying on outside dispatchable energy sources for grid supply balancing.


Last time I checked, there was no surplus of sustainable methane — there was a severe lack of it…

John Doe

They have used a few hydrogen busses in Norway for years. Fueled by hydrogen made by renewable energy.
It works well, and all that – but the main issue is cost of the vehicle. They are getting cheaper for each generation.
Another issue is lack of charging infrastucture, but like most things.. if it is a market, it will be filled.
The last issue is size, which also is coming down for each generation.

Give it a few years, and cost will come down, size will be smaller and then it will be a solution for a few.
For some trains, ships, trucks and cars it can be an OK choise.
For cars, the volume sale will be EVs, but I think hydrogen may be a solution for special needs.


No, the real issue is the cost of dispensed highly compressed H2.

Despite the wishful thinking of fool cell fanboys, that’s never significantly going to come down in price. Heck, even the cost of the fueling stations alone is much too high to ever let H2 be a practical fuel for widespread use, let alone the profligately wasteful supply/ distribution chain for H2 fuel.

#physics #economics


500 kg/day station costing 2 millions can provide 500 kg * 67 miles/kg *30 = 1005000 miles per month of travel. Or 1005 cars driving 1000 miles/month. That is $2000 per car, less than Tesla is charging for enabling Supercharger access for early Model S60 without it. But keep denying the math anyway.

On more practical example, compressed natural gas station not so far away from where I live charges $1.50/gge and somehow survives just fine despite silly rambling and childish name calling by tesla fanboys. Hydrogen just adds extra stage of compressor for a bit higher pressure if you don’t go into irrelevant technical details.


It’s not just about the 500kg station servicing 100 cars per day, you also have to consider that BEV can be serviced right in your home.
For $2mil you could install about 20 DC fast chargers. At 150kW that means you can charge 75kWh battery in about 30min. So one charger can service 48 cars per day. Two chargers have serviced the same number of cars as that single hydrogen station. (500kg/5kg per fill=100 vehicles)
I don’t know about you, but if I can service 960 cars for $2mil vs 100 cars for $2mil, then I think I know which way I’d spend that money.
Not to mention that a huge percentage would actually charge at home and never need to use the DC chargers.


Costs will come down, but not enough to make it viable. Except maybe for ships. Certainly not for any road transport. (And trains seem an even worse proposition.)

Johan M

Might make sense for the likes of X7 and 7-series, but none of the other series.


BMW Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Still Under Development



Because they are copycats‼


The trend of otherwise (apparently) sensibly run auto manufacturing companies continuing to pour money down the rathole of “fool car” development… well, I just don’t get it. I do understand they’ve spent a lot of money in the past to develop them, in the hope that it would lead somewhere despite all the science — and also the economics — pointing very strongly to it being utterly impractical to use hydrogen as an everyday transportation fuel.

You’d think that at some point, they would stop throwing good money after bad. If they insist on pursuing fuel cell tech, then they should at least try powering them with some fuel that’s cheaper and less wasteful (and polluting) to use, and easier to handle. Just about any fuel other than highly compressed hydrogen.


You’ll probably find they get tax breaks for R&D, so they keep doing this research. You’ll probably find there is some ego involved that can’t admit they made a mistake so just keep pushing it until they get proved right. You’ll probably find a mentality of, “they’re doing it, we need to do it as well or they might make a break through that puts us out of business” (they being the opposition). Well, Tesla already made the breakthrough and if they don’t change course they might get put out of business.


Ha ha. The hydrogen-powered team are still working on it, because they haven’t quit. Because no-one is looking to hire a hydrogen team.

Compare with the BMW battery-electric team that came up with the i3 & i8… they quit to make more money somewhere else… which partly explains BMW’s utter lack of competitive innovation right now


Cue the armchair fuel-cell experts.


Like yourself you mean? ROFLOL!


What have I said about fuel cells that makes me a fake expert?


Again they are behind of Japanese heavyweights‼ Why people still worship German autos⁇

Jabu Bansa

In the long term they need a solution that works.
With energy grids that don’t even nearly support a few battery charging stations per street and child labour used for the important materials needed for the batteries it’s time the car manufactures get back their senses to work on something more sustainable.


I wonder what you used to write this post, considering that virtually all electronic devices use tin from the DRC…

Jabu Bansa



Yes, that too. I’m just reminding you that Cobalt is not the only conflict mineral.

There you go folks! A comment from someone who didn’t think about anything. How much energy does it take to make 1kg hydrogen? Last time I checked it is about 33kW to 45kW depending on the process. How far can you go on that 1kg? About 60mi. How much did it cost? As far as I can tell, between $14 to $16. Drum roll… How far can an electric car go on 33kW? About 115mi. How much did it cost? Anywhere from $0.99 (cheapest electric rate I could find anywhere was $0.03/kWh) to $12.00 (typical peak rate of $0.35/kWh). Typical home solar will cost $0.07 over the life of the system, so 33kWh would be about $2.31. So here’s a comment about how our electric grid is struggling now so the answer is to introduce hydrogen as a fuel that will use at least twice the power compared to just putting it into a battery. It will cost anywhere from 16x the cost, and if made from steam reformation is still as polluting as an ICE car. Yep, that makes total sense to me, go for it! In the mean time, I’ll just keep charging my electric car in the… Read more »

Consider this. One of the biggest complaints is all the road transport, heavy trucks moving things around. Transporting fuel is one of the big ones, so unless you make the hydrogen at the station then you are still moving that fuel using heavy trucking.
Charging a battery goes over the wire. Changing to battery electric will result in a huge reducing of trucking as the fuel is not being transported to the service station.
Not a good outcome for heavy trucking, but isn’t that a great outcome for our towns and cities?
And how much energy is wasted going to the service station? I know there is one near me, but even 1mi out of my way, that’s 112mi extra driving every year (assuming once per week and it is 1mi there and 1mi back to the route I really wanted to go). And for me it is more than that because 2mi away is fuel that is 10% cheaper!
But with battery electric in charging where I park, so every trip is just going where I need to go. That has to be worth something to society.