Because racing makes everything cool.
BMW is interested in building a hydrogen-electric prototype racecar in order to compete for overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There have been several hydrogen and electric prototype racers to contest Le Mans in recent years as part of the ACO’s popular Garage 56 program for unique and experimental technology. BMW, however, would be the first major automaker to pursue such a concept through to reality.
Unlike an all-electric concept that would require battery swaps, a hydrogen LMP would be capable ofrefuellinglike a regular race car with the side effect of also being emission free. “It would be a technology to consider for a race application in endurance racing and it is something we could look at in the future from a prototype point of view,” BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt told Motorsport. Marquardt also confirmed that BMW has been in discussion with the FIA and ACO in order to lay the groundwork for a hydrogen-electric entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans sometime in the near future. “We talked to (the FIA and ACO) about fuel cells,” he said. “This will continue; we are not closed.”
The program would fall in line with BMW’s growing interest in hydrogen fuel cells. Already the company has developed several hydrogen-powered passenger car models and concepts. The company did say it only wants to race using hydrogen if it has a related product to sell soon after the race program launches. Which means we’re likely to see something sooner rather than later. It’s clear that both BMW and the ACO would like to see this program get off the ground. Pierre Fillon, president of the sanctioning body, has said he wants it to be possible to race at Le Mans for the full 24 hours without burning any fossil fuels within the next ten years.