The Bavarian car maker has been working with Toyota to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology for some years now but has been investigating hydrogen as a fuel since the late 1970s. The 520h from 1979 used a 3.5-litre direct injection engine which could run on either conventional fuels or liquid hydrogen. This was followed up with the Hydrogen 7 Series in 2005, a limited production saloon powered by a dual-fuel (petrol or hydrogen) 6.0-litre V12.
Perhaps the fact that it consumed hydrogen at a rate of less than six miles per gallon persuaded BMW that internal combustion was not the future for that particular alternative fuel. The company demonstrated i8 and 5 Series GT based fuel cell prototypes in 2015, two years into its partnership with Toyota, the Japanese firm having taken an early lead in the technology.
At the time, BMW indicated that it might have fuel cell cars on the road by the end of the decade. Now it has moved that milestone to the middle of this one instead, caveating it by rightly pointing out that it depends on widespread, zero-carbon hydrogen infrastructure being in place.
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