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BMW Working On Hydrogen Fuel Cells, But Predicts Battery-Powered Future

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On: Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 9:56AM | By: Carl Malek

BMW Working On Hydrogen Fuel Cells, But Predicts Battery-Powered Future

In a recent report, BMW has revealed that it has plans to formally commence testing of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. However, the firm also stated that it still sees battery-powered offerings as the way of the future for the time being, especially if new developments —could help revamp the way many consumers think about electric vehicles.

Recent rumors hint that the company is possibly working on a third "i" model to join the hot selling i3 hatchback, as well as the recently launched i8 supercar. However, unlike those two models, the third model—possibly known as the i5—would use fuel cell power instead of a battery and it would provide a gasoline-powered mileage capability to address range anxiety especially on long trips. "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,” quipped BMW marketing head Ian Robertson in a statement to Autocar.

Prior to this latest round of speculation, the company has been collaborating with Toyota to develop fuel-cell technology with the goal of creating a shared powertrain by the end of the decade. Robertson, however, now appears to believe that BMW has now realized some of the inherent limits of hydrogen technology—refueling infastructure, for one. Those limits along with recent advances in battery technology could help keep the German company from ever releasing an entry into this relatively new vehicle segment. "The real issue lies not around what we can do, though, but whether the infastructure can be built up to supply hydrogen in the marketplace cost-effectively."

Instead Robertson is in favor of new types of lithium batteries and solid state energy storage systems which could be key gamechangers in the marketplace over the next decade. Both technologies would help reduce the rather long charge times seen on electric vehicles, while making the batteries themselves more efficent which will increase range.

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