Toyota and BMW unofficially announced a collaboration to bring the Japanese engineered fuel cell technology to the German manufacturers vehicles in the near future. The two vehicle manufacturing giants near an agreement for Toyota to license fuel cell technology to BMW, and an official announcement could come as early as Thursday regarding the details of the negotiations. The German luxury manufacturer use fuel cell drive train and energy storage technology already developed by Toyota to pursue an alternative fuel vehicle project over the coming decade.
Fuel cell type vehicles use new technology to convert chemical energy to electrical energy through a process using oxygen or other oxidizing agents. Once converted, the energy can be used for and electrified motors and powertrains. While other fuels like methane and CNG can be used, Hydrogen proves the easiest and most effective fuel for the new energy source. As a new technology, fuel sells prove advantageous over battery electric vehicles for a variety of reasons including:
- Fuel cell vehicle power last five times longer than BEV counterparts
- Only a couple minutes required for fill up while BEV’s can take hours for a full charge.
- Fuels easy to store and convert to energy
Toyota previewed the company’s foray into the hydrogen fuel cell alternative power realm at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Show with the FCV-R concept vehicle. The CUV appeared as a functional hydrogen fuel cell car capable of traveling 435 miles on a single tank. The company estimated the vehicle would appear in a production model sometime around 2015 with a price tag of $125,000.
BMW already ventured into the alternative fuel realm with the Hydrogen 7 concept, which directly used H2 for fuel without converting it. The Toyota collaboration will allow the company to run electric vehicles with fuel cell technology. The Bavarians expect a concept car by 2015 while production vehicles could hit show room floors in 2020.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson