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BMW Introduces 1st Production-based Hydrogen Car

31 May 2000

Munich, Germany - BMW presented the world's first production-based hydrogen 
car in Berlin, the BMW 750hL.  The luxurious sedans will be used as shuttles 
for the entire duration of the EXPO 2000.  These vehicles are built on the 
same production line in Dingolfing as normal production 7 Series.  They will 
demonstrate to all who experience them thatthey meet the very highest  
requirements for comfort, dynamics and utility value at market-appropriate 

"And we will be the first automobile manufacturer in the world to offer series 
production hydrogen cars," says Dr. Burkhard Göschel, Development 
Director of the BMW Group.

Thousands of Hydrogen Cars and Adequate Infrastructure by 2010

Dr. Burkhard Göschel: "Our vision is to have a hydrogen fuel station
available in the vicinity of the branches of the BMW Group in Germany by the
11th of May 2005."  BMW offers international energy companies close
cooperation for the development of a hydrogen fuel station network: "Our aim
is to have a sufficient network of hydrogen fuel stations all over Europe by
the year 2010," says the development chief. By then BMW has planned to have
sold several thousand hydrogen cars. The prices for the cars and for the
fuel are to be similar to those of conventional cars and fuels.

750hL: A Hydrogen Sedan For Everyday Use

The hydrogen technology used in the 12-cylinder sedans has already advanced
so far that it permits realistic planning for large series production.  BMW
has extended its leading position in the development of the CleanEnergy car.
CleanEnergy is the generic term for the ecologically ideal, closed energy
cycle based on water.

Running on hydrogen, the 12-cylinder engine delivers 204-horsepower and
accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 9.6 seconds, while achieving a
top speed of 226 km/h.  Fitted with the 140 liter Cryo fuel tank, the fully
equipped 7 Series has an additional range of 350 kilometers.  The car
features a conventional fuel supply too, since the availability of hydrogen
fuel is limited.  After the EXPO in Hanover is over, the sedans will drive
back to Munich on their own power using conventional fuel.

The engine itself differs mainly only with regard to the intake duct with
additional injection valves for the hydrogen. The production of the 750hL
was incorporated as much as possible into the normal production process.

The 12-cylinder engines were integrated into production in the Dingolfing plant
and assembled together with the conventional spark-ignition and diesel engines.
The hydrogen is stored cryogenically - i.e. in super-chilled and liquid form
- at a temperature of around minus 250 degrees Celsius in a double-walled
steel tank behind the rear seat-backs.  Two safety valves ensure controlled
ventilation in the case of excess pressure.  They are also part of the
comprehensive safety concept which proved its reliability in numerous crash
tests.  Even in a massive rear-end collision in which the tank would be
affected in its protected area, the steel cylinder with its double
two-millimeter thick walls did not leak.  Even greater deformations which
might cause a leak in the tank, would not cause it to explode. For an
explosion to occur, hydrogen and air would have to mix but due to the higher
inner pressure of the hydrogen, air cannot enter the tank.

The First Production-Based Cars With Fuel Cell

A number of the BMW hydrogen sedans are the first production-based cars to
feature a fuel cell for supplying on-board electricity.  This "electrochemical" 
battery takes on the function it does best: the production of electricity with 
a very high degree of efficiency of up to 50 percent.  The compact fuel cell 
battery in the 7 Series with hydrogen drive is only as big as a conventional 
lead-acid battery.  However the five kilowatt unit outperforms the best of 
these by far.  The so-called fuel cell APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) not only 
takes on the supply of all conventional electric components, but also allows 
for new functions.  The trailblazing 7 Series model features stationary air 
conditioning which cools the interior even if the engine is turned off.

Pioneering Service Concept:

Permanent Checking Function via Radiotelematics

Like the Formula 1 racing cars, all 750hLs are radio-linked to the service
computer in the development workshop in Munich - 24 hours a day.  This
enables the monitoring of all systems continually and facilitates reacting
instantly to any situation.  Not only is all of the hydrogen data transmitted 
and checked, but all the data processed by the standard bus system in the 
7 Series, as well.  "The workshop knows that something is wrong before the
driver does", explains Klaus Pehr, the BMW engineer responsible for hydrogen
cars. The insights gained are incorporated into the on-going improvement of
the hydrogen fleet.  By means of a rotating deployment plan for the
environment-friendly 7 Series, all cars are brought up-to-date as quickly as
possible.  After the world exhibition is over on October 31st, all vehicles
will have received the latest developments.

The telematic checking system has already proved its usefulness in the
development stage.  Thanks to this system, the car check conducted every
evening in Hanover is reduced to a short operation in the branch where
mainly only the sensors have to be calibrated. There the 750hLs are also
refueled with hydrogen using a so-called mobile "Cryo-Can".

Hydrogen Engines: Lean-Burning Mixtures Prevent Emissions

Since the end of the seventies, BMW has been dealing with the topic of
hydrogen drive.  Five generations of hydrogen cars have hit the road, each
based on the BMW 7 Series of the time.

Today too, the basic engine is a series-production engine, but the hydrogen
drive calls for some changes ranging from the fuel system to the mixture
formation process.  An electronic mixture formation system has been
developed which precisely matches hydrogen injection and charge changes.
Combustion generally takes place with an excess of air.  The additional air
in the combustion chamber absorbs heat and reduces the flame temperature to
below the critical level above which the mixture could ignite by itself.  At
the same time the low combustion temperature also prevents the production of
nitric oxides (NOx), which have to be detoxified by catalytic converters in
petrol-engine cars. So even without additional exhaust emissions treatment,
the BMW hydrogen engines operate almost entirely without emissions.  This
environment-friendly engine layout leads to a reduction in specific output.
However, this can be compensated for by means such as increasing the
displacement.  Engines designed solely for hydrogen operation do not have to
make this compromise and are at least on par with spark-ignition or diesel
engines as far as specific output is concerned.

Refueling In Only Three Minutes

A further prerequisite for the introduction of hydrogen as fuel is a filling
system which must be no more complicated than filling a car today.  The low
temperature of minus 250 degrees Celsius requires special refueling

In cooperation with its project partners, BMW has developed a fueling system
which can be used to fill vehicles with hydrogen as quickly, loss-free and
safely as with conventional fuels.  The latest version of this technology is
currently being used by the world's first public robotic fuel station for
liquid hydrogen at the Munich airport.  The fully automatic hydrogen fueling
operation takes less than three minutes and is a simple process for the

BMW Promotes Solar Electricity For Generating Hydrogen

Hydrogen can only be a sensible alternative to conventional fuels if the
electricity needed for generating it from water can be produced with
renewable energy sources.  This can, for example, be achieved by means of
solar cells which produce electricity directly.  Solar powerplants with
groove-shaped parabolic mirrors, which operate on the principle of the steam
turbine, are a promising alternative.  Such a system is already in operation
in the California Mojave desert.  In order to test such scenarios, BMW has
joined the solar hydrogen project in Neunburg vom Wald at an early stage,
where the photovoltaic generation of hydrogen and its use for different
purposes was studied.  The aim is to produce sufficient amounts of hydrogen
economically using solar energy.

BMW Supports Practice-Oriented Hydrogen Initiatives

BMW supports initiatives at all levels that help to create the necessary
conditions for the introduction of hydrogen powered cars.  The "European
Integrated Hydrogen Project" for example aims at harmonizing hydrogen
relevant regulations internationally.  The goal is to provide lawmakers with
a sound basis for making decisions.  Concepts for standardizing
infrastructure and vehicle components are being developed.
BMW has joined together with nine partners from the world of business and
research for this purpose.  Work is running on two tracks: a top-down
process will analyze already existing hydrogen relevant laws in Europe.  On
this basis suggestions for Europe-wide standardization are to be worked out.
The bottom-up analysis examines existing vehicles and infrastructures to
identify safety relevant aspects.  They will then be used as a basis for
discussions with the authorities.  With this project, BMW aims to bring
about general licensing for hydrogen powered vehicles.


To Strengthen International Alliance For Hydrogen

In addition BMW has been very active in bringing about the international
hydrogen conference HYFORUM 2000 which will take place in Munich in
September 2000.  It is purposefully aimed at high-ranking decision-makers
from industry, finance, insurance and politics.  Its goal is to bring
together important partners and to direct their attention to the topic of
hydrogen as an energy source.  Wide-ranging cooperation is now called for in
order to pave the way for hydrogen to move from research to application.  To
achieve this, not only are technical decisions needed, but political
decisions as well.  It is expected that the HYFORUM 2000 will produce
answers to the energy question in the 21st century. As an international
forum, HYFORUM 2000 will send out signals to the entire world.