BMW has big plans for the electric car market. The company just unveiled a revamped experimental i8-based hydrogen-fueled sports car which will run solely on liquid hydrogen. Unlike other electric cars including those produced by Tesla, BMW’s version will hopefully lack range limitations.
The auto maker said that the car should hit the roads in five years’ time because the technology needed a few more tweaks. In 2012, the German company designed a plug-in hybrid version of its i8.
The hydrogen fuel-cell sports car was unveiled last week at BMW’s Group Innovation Days in France. The company didn’t give a name to the new i8 prototype, but announced an approximate release year – 2020.
What’s for sure, the care will be very large, a five-seated saloon able of topping 300 miles per hour on a single tunnel tank. The cryogenic tank, which will be mounted in the middle of the vehicle, will hold liquid hydrogen at a pressure of 350 bars. The tank will be no larger than the space a transmission tunnel requires to control the rear wheels.
The BMW’s i-series is expected to receive a big boost from the hydrogen-fueled luxury sports car. The company also announced that the second-generation i3 is slated to hit the showrooms in four years’ time.
BMW turning its hybrid i8 supercar into the company’s first hydrogen fuel-cell electric car was mostly a secret for five years. The car is built on a i8 platform so it may contain a bit of outdated technology. Yet, the 80s-themed bodywork was not intended to point that out.
Matthias Klietz head of the BMW powertrain research department, said that the i8-based fuel-cell car was done five years ago, but it required testing and tweaking for two to three years. The 2000’s i8 protoptype could hit 65 miles per hour in six seconds, Mr. Klietz disclosed.
According to people familiar with the matter it was the engineers’ decision to build the car on the i8 platform, rather than trying to build it from scratch and translate it into a bulky SUV or saloon.
Klietz also said that when the engineers saw that the prototype can reach 130 miles per hour with a 180kW energy output, they wanted to convince themselves and the top executives that fuel-cell cars could be sporting.
“We wouldn’t be BMW if our default position as engineers, when we’re given a free hand, isn’t to instinctively make it a sports car, would we?
Lietz rethorically asked.
Image Source: Top Gear