BMW Hydrogen 7 Test Drive - BMW Clean Energy
We tested the BMW Hydrogen 7 on the streets that make up the Monaco Formula 1 circuit during the 2008 EVER Monaco Ecological Vehicle Motor Show and Industry Exhibition (March 27-30, 2008).
BMW's Hydrogen 7 can run entirely on hydrogen and produces zero emissions in this mode (i.e. just water vapour). The Hydrogen 7 is based upon the 760iL chassis but with significant engineering modifications made to the car by BMW to run it on pure hydrogen gas (zero emissions mode) or switch over to run it on petrol (gasoline). By simply selecting the H2 button on the steering console you switch over to running on hydrogen gas. One of the clear physical differences between the Hydrogen 7 and the 760iL is the addition of an 8 kg capacity hydrogen storage tank that is installed behind the passenger compartment.
BMW's Hydrogen 7 has a 6.0L V12 motor and is rated at 260 hp (191 kW) with a torque of 390 Nm at 4300 rpm. The 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time is 9.5 seconds and the top speed is 230 km/h (142 mph). The Hydrogen 7 can be started on either hydrogen fuel or petrol by selecting the H2 on/off button on the steering console. There is one gauge with two lcd readings indicating the fuel levels for both hydrogen and petrol (gasoline), and the engine can switch fuel types while it is running which is excellent. The engine sound running on hydrogen is slightly different from gasoline (petrol) and takes on a quiet compressor sound under heavy acceleration. The range of the BMW Hydrogen 7 is 200 km (124 miles) on hydrogen and 500 km (310 miles) on petrol gasoline for a total range of 700 km (434 miles)
What is remarkable is how BMW have completed the Hydrogen 7 at production quality levels. There is no evidence whatsoever that this car has been limited to 100 examples thus far. Hydrogen 7 badges are specially placed, so people know you are driving a very unique vehicle. For BMW the Hydrogen 7 is part of their Clean Energy Programme and this allows them to refine the engineering development of hydrogen gas handling and its infrastructure in association with their industry partner Linde Gas. This knowledge of the use of hydrogen, and its onboard storage and fuelling requirements, will be transferred over to BMW's hydrogen fuel cell development programme as well.
We tested the Hydrogen 7 in purely hydrogen mode on parts of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit, taking the same corners the Formula 1 cars do, albeit at the legal limits. The Hydrogen 7 performed flawlessly with balanced power output and no hesitation whatsoever throughout the acceleration powerband. Driving up the hill towards Monte-Carlo's Casino and then down towards the ex-Loew's corner and then into the tunnel and accelerating through to Tabac, past the Swimming Pool and then right at Rascasse, the Hydrogen 7's handling performed very well, with very capable power application, turn-in, and sway control for a large saloon car.