Toyota Exec Claims BMW Will Give the BMW i3 a Hydrogen Fuel Cell

BMW’s first mass-produced electric car, the all-electric BMW i3, is proving extremely popular among EV fans and plug-in converts. Thanks to its cavernous interior, unique styling and sporty 7.2 second 0-60 mph time, the BMW i3 mixes BMW’s well-known no-compromise attitude towards premium car design with enough quirkiness to make it stand out from the crowd.

The BMW i3 is currently available in all-electric or range-extended electric versions. But would you buy a hydrogen fuel cell version?

The BMW i3 is currently available in all-electric or range-extended electric versions. But would you buy a hydrogen fuel cell version?

For those who are worried its 81 miles of EPA-approved range issn’t enough, you can even buy its sibling, the BMW i3 REx, complete with a tiny 600cc range-extending gasoline engine for emergencies.

But according to Australian website Motoring (via GreenCarReportsthe luxury German automaker isn’t going to stop there when it comes to BMW i3 drivetrain choices: it wants to make a hydrogen fuel cell version too.

The source of Motoring‘s claim is non other than Craig Scott, Toyota USA’s advanced vehicle boss. While Scott works for Toyota, not BMW, the two companies have been working together for many years on many areas, including developing and improving electric vehicle battery technology, new engine designs and yes, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Toyota, whose upcoming production fuel cell sedan — rumoured to be called the Toyota Mirai — will be debuting its hydrogen fuel cell technology in the mid-sized sedan next year. But in order to make Toyota’s investment pay off, Scott strongly hinted that BMW will be getting the technology too.

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel Cell car is first, but Toyota execs say partner company BMW is going to use the H2 technology in the i3

Toyota’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell car is first, but Toyota execs say partner company BMW is going to use the H2 technology in the i3

The BMW i3 is apparently the prime candidate.

From an engineering point of view, the BMW i3’s extremely strong and lightweight chassis — made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic — makes it ideal for modification to include a build-in carbon-fibre compressed hydrogen tank.

Moreover, its light weight translates to excellent energy efficiency, regardless of the power source being used to drive it, while the space liberated by replacing its existing 22 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack with a fuel cell stack would have zero impact on the car’s current interior dimensions.

For die-hard EV fans and hydrogen skeptics alike however, the thought of one of the most popular electric vehicles to launch this year being turned into a costly fuel cell vehicle may be too much to bear.

Would you want a hydrogen fuel cell BMW i3? And how much do you think it would cost? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Esl1999 .

    I’ve seen a couple here in LA and they are starting to grow on me. I think a hybrid version between fuel cell and electric would make more sense. This gives the option of recharging when you can’t get to a hydrogen station and vice versa.

  • vdiv

    I’m looking forward to that $6k hydrogen refueling station that can be installed anywhere…

  • Well, I’m not getting i3 REx (just BEV), let alone Hydrogen, which is not my energy choice at all.

  • D. Harrower

    This strikes me as Toyota (notoriously anti-EV but pro-FC) trying to save a bit of face by saying “See, other people are doing it too!” Maybe they’re even implying BMW is choosing FC over EV…nnHow many of those EV fans and plug-in converts would buy an $80,000 i3?