We love secret projects, but will this one be as cool as the regular i8?
While seemingly every automaker is making a mad dash towards electric vehicles, BMW and Toyota aren't as keen to jump on board that train just yet. While both companies are investing in electric cars, they are both also partners in the hydrogen fuel cell venture. Essentially, both companies want to build both electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in order to further develop both technologies. At one point, they will have to make a decision as to which technology offers the most benefits and go with that.
If both companies find that fuel cells are the way of the future, then big bucks could be made while the rest of the automotive community that shunned the technology takes time to make the switch. BMW's fuel cell director Merten Jung said that the company hopes to have hydrogen fuel cell drivetrains ready for production vehicles as soon as 2020. While the disadvantages include a lack of hydrogen stations and expense, these are things that could be solved if the advantages of hydrogen are found to be greater. Some of the immediate advantages include a lighter drivetrain weight due to the lack of batteries and quick fill up times compared to the time it takes an electric car to charge.
Toyota already sells the Mirai hydrogen vehicle in California, but the car is produced in very low numbers and is in the sort of infancy that the GM EV-1 was in when it was being leased to customers. The same goes for cars like the Honda FCV and Hyundai Tucson Hydrogen Car. Although the lack of hydrogen adoption and the recent leaps that electric cars have made mean we shouldn't expect to see an army of hydrogen-powered BMWs and Toyotas rolling down city streets anytime soon. Large auto markets that struggle with pollution like China and India could be influential to the widespread acceptance of hydrogen cars. If these countries with spotty electricity service can adopt the technology, it may catch on around the world.