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27 Jul 2020, 13:09
Benjamin Wehrmann

BMW says hydrogen fuel cells remain important technology option for passenger cars

Clean Energy Wire

Carmaker BMW says hydrogen-based fuel cell technology will remain an important option for low-carbon propulsion systems of passenger cars, challenging the position of its national competitors and the German government regarding the best way to achieve a transition away from fossil fuels in the automotive sector. "Depending on how the surrounding conditions pan out, hydrogen fuel cell technology has the potential to remain a pillar in the BMW group's portfolio," CEO Oliver Zipse said during a visit by economy minister Peter Altmaier to the carmaker's research headquarters in Munich. Zipse welcomed the fact that the government "has acknowledged the importance of green hydrogen for the energy system of the future" and called for expanding the country's hydrogen fuelling station network to provide for the needs of utility and passenger vehicles alike. During his visit to Munich, Altmaier said the government would provide the right regulatory framework for hydrogen technologies and support companies seeking to develop and employ these. "But making this economically viable is up to the companies themselves," he argued, adding that he was "very glad" that many companies "like BMW have the vision, the courage and the innovative strength" to make hydrogen technology a success.

BMW's approach to introduce fuel cells as a mass product for the passenger car market is at odds with that of Germany's largest carmaker Volkswagen, which has focused on battery-powered vehicles in its bid to make cars more climate friendly. While hydrogen is seen as an important fuel option for heavy duty vehicles and long-haulers, such as lorries or buses, there are doubts over its usefulness for lighter passenger cars due to its low degree of efficiency, as lots of energy is lost in conversion processes when turning electricity from renewable sources into the synthetic fuel with electrolysers.

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