More automobile manufacturers are pursuing development of hydrogen technologies in order to make hydrogen-powered vehicles a viable option for consumers. BMW, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors are working on projects that they hope will make hydrogen-powered vehicles readily available to the general public.
BMW recently unveiled the Hydrogen 7, its hydrogen-powered luxury vehicle. The Hydrogen 7 has an internal combustion engine that runs on hydrogen or gasoline. Its hydrogen mode allows for a driving range of 125 miles while gasoline allows for a driving range of 300 miles, for a total of more than 400 miles. Switching power sources is controlled through a push of a button. During operation, the vehicle’s engine power and torque remain the same, so performance is not affected when the driver switches modes.
A four-seat vehicle, the Hydrogen 7 can accelerate from 062.1 mph in 9.5 seconds and has a top speed of 143 mph, according to BMW. Although the car will first only be available in a limited series in Europe, it will be on the market in the United States and other countries by 2007.
Ford Motor Company has partnered with BP to open a hydrogen fueling station in Taylor, Michigan. The station will be used to fuel a fleet of Ford Focus fuel cell vehicles. Currently, Ford has thirty hydrogen-powered Focus fuel cell vehicles on the road as part of a worldwide, seven-city program aimed at conducting real-world testing of fuel cell technology.
“The opening of this station represents a step forward for hydrogen as a motor fuel,” said Gerhard Schmidt, Ford Motor Company vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering. “We have made much progress in hydrogen propulsion over the past fifteen years, and this is another excellent milestone to commemorate.”
General Motors (GM) is another automaker working on a hydrogen project. The company has announced plans to develop a domestic hydrogen refueling unit. According to GM spokesman Scott Fosgard, the goal is an affordable, compact unit which customers can use to refuel their hydrogen-powered vehicles at home. Currently in the prototype stage, GM hopes it will come on the market in 2011. This is the same year in which the automaker estimates it will begin offering hydrogen-powered vehicles.
“General Motors in demonstrating its commitment to hydrogen fuel cells as the answer for taking the automobile out of the environmental debate and reducing our dependence on petroleum,” said GM Vice President Larry Burns.