BMW preparing fuel cell car for 2025

We could see a hydrogen-powered Rolls-Royce, too.

BMW is putting a large focus on electric technology, but it still believes hydrogen is the ideal solution for motorists who regularly drive long distances. The brand will cater to this burgeoning market when it launches a series-produced hydrogen-powered car in 2025.

"We intend on building a large car with a fuel cell in 2025. Fuel cells will happen, but how relevant they will be to BMW we don't know yet,” said Klaus Fröhlich, the company's development boss, in an interview with British magazine Autocar.

The Munich-based company has dabbled in fuel cell technology for decades, and it has built numerous prototypes over the past few years, including one based on the E65-generation 7 Series. It used to feed hydrogen directly into a modified internal combustion engine, but its current prototypes use the material to generate electricity which then zaps the drive wheels through a motor. It's this technology that's expected to reach series production in a little less than a decade.

BMW maintains hydrogen is only a suitable solution in larger cars, like the 5 or the 7 Series and the upcoming X7 SUV. Building a smaller hydrogen-powered car doesn't make sense because the big tanks required for long-range driving don't fit in the reduced dimensions.

While we're unlikely to see a pure-electric Rolls-Royce in the near future, Fröhlich's comments suggest the British brand could launch a hydrogen-electric model sooner or later in a bid to offer a model with zero tailpipe emissions. Autocar points out the new Phantom is built on a flexible platform developed with alternative powertrains in mind, but a firm launch date hasn't been set yet.

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