Toyota has recently showcased it’s new fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, ahead of it’s Japan launch on 15th December 2014. Under the hood of the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is Toyota’s latest fuel cell stack that does away with their earlier system’s external humidifier. 3D fine mesh flow channels also ensure uniform generation of cell surfaces. This combined with a high capacity converter that boosts power from the fuel stack to 650 volts means that the fuel cell stack itself as well as the electric motor on the Mirai are lighter and more compact.
Word is now out that BMW is looking to use a variation of Toyota’s new hydrogen fuel cell system for a model of their own. BMW’s range of futuristic cars include the i3 compact all electric car and a high performance i8 that is propelled by a hybrid powertrain. A hybrid model could be slotted in between the two cars, supposedly with an 'i5' badge, this would be another feather in BMW’s green cap. This will also give BMW an answer for Mercedes’ fuel cell B-Class.
BMW and Toyota have entered into a joint venture to benefit from the economies of scale, as well as lower development costs for creating alternate fuel vehicle. The two companies are also working on developing a relatively compact rear-wheel drive sports car.
*Image for representational purpose only
Japanese car makers such as Honda and Toyota have been at the forefront of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development in recent times. And you have to say that the hydrogen fuel cell system makes a lot of sense as it is a zero emissions mode of commuting without having to replace expensive batteries in electric cars, coupled with long recharge times. As for hybrids, they still produce emissions from their internal combustion engines.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the other hand can be refueled like normal cars from hydrogen filling stations, chains of which will be expanded (Toyota in the US is joining hands with Air Liquide to develop and supply hydrogen to 12 hydrogen filling stations in America).
If BMW goes down the fuel cell path it has a strong potential for benefit in the long run, as more and more automobiles companies are considering the same. Audi is going to showcase it’s new hydrogen fueled A7 at the upcoming Los Angeles Motor Show
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