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BMW Series 1 Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Car Announced

UTC Power has announced that their 5 kW fuel cell is being used inside a new BMW Series 1 Hybrid electric auto. The unveiling this week was during the 25th anniversary BMW ZT celebration in Munich, Germany.

UTC has been working on this fuel cell since 1999. According to UTC Vice President, Ken Stewart, “From a fully frozen state, the fuel cell is half way to full power in less than 30 seconds. The system uses UTC Power’s proprietary ambient pressure technology, which does not require a compressor to deliver air to the cell stack. This results in a quieter, more efficient system.”

So far, BMW has not come forward with many details about the Series 1 fuel cell hybrid vehicle (a similar vehicle is pictured). Back in December 2009, BMW had said they are scaling back operations, pulling engineers off the BMW Hydrogen 7 to work on their line of hybrid vehicles because of the depressed overall auto sales.

But, at that time, I had also speculated that BMW wasn’t suspending or discontinuing its hydrogen program but changing direction to fuel cell vehicles. Now, why would I make this assertion? After all BMW has been developing dual fuel, gasoline and liquid hydrogen autos with internal combustion engines (ICE) since 1979 when the BMW 520h was unveiled.

But cryogenic hydrogen hasn’t caught with the other automakers or the H2 fueling station designers like compressed hydrogen gas has. This is not to say that BMW will abandon liquid hydrogen and ICE’s altogether. But, the BMW Series 1 fuel cell vehicle shows that the automaker is willing to go in a new direction.

In 2001, BMW rolled out a prototype Mini Cooper with an H2ICE system. In 2009, BMW announced that 500 MINI E battery electric vehicles would be distributed for field trials mostly in California. What is missing now, is the Mini Cooper fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle. How about it BMW are you up to this task? The BMW Series 1 fuel cell hybrid electric auto is a good, fresh start for the company and a step in the right direction. Now, let’s see what their second step may be.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen auto blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen autos, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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  1. Avatar

    I wonder how high will be the price.

  2. admin

    Katharina Singer from the BMW Group sent this link with a little more info:

  3. admin

    It looks like from this slide show (and graphic above) that this vehicle also has a small gasoline internal combustion engine on it and uses supercapacitors for quick accelerations.

  4. admin

    Here’s some additional information on this the BMW series 1 fuel cell hybrid electric research vehicle.

  5. Avatar

    BMW And you supposed to be the leader

    The most distinctive feature of the FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)—other than the fuel cell itself—is the streamlined layout made possible by its compact and efficient powertrain components.
    And make no mistake—the FCX Clarity FCEV is an electric auto. The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen to make electricity. The electricity then powers the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle. Water is the only byproduct the FCX Clarity FCEV leaves behind.
    Roll over the numbered steps to learn about each stage of the process.
    1. Hydrogen tank – Stores hydrogen
    2. V Flow fuel cell stack – Generates electricity
    3. Lithium-ion battery – Stores electricity
    4. Power Drive Unit (PDU) – Governs electrical flow
    5. Electric drive motor – Propels vehicle

  6. Avatar


    Thomas Weber, Daimler board member for research and development and a man who has apparently never heard of the Honda FCX Clarity. Mercedes-Benz has already produced more than 100 hydrogen-powered prototypes and is among the pioneers either way.

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