Hydrogen fuel cells [HFC], which convert pure hydrogen and oxygen into water and electricity, is nothing new. As a matter of fact, the technology exists as far back as the late 1930s. Fuel cell technology was also used to generate electricity on the NASA Space Shuttle program until it was dismantled last year. While being a perfectly clean energy solution, HFCs remained bulky and inefficient for decades.
Up until a few years ago, the only fuel cell powerful enough to power a vehicle was just barely small enough to fit into a cargo van. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Company has been at the forefront of developing smaller, more powerful, and more efficient fuel cells, and plans to have at least one HFC vehicle on the road by 2015.
We’ve heard the rumors before, that BMW might be looking to use Toyota fuel cell technology in a future vehicle, and finally, this year, in a couple of days actually, this partnership looks to be official. With Toyota at the forefront of HFC development, automakers are looking for any edge they can into the market.
BMW’s route will include Toyota-licensed fuel cell technology, saving years and billions of dollars in research and development, so they can get a prototype out the door by 2015. BMW expects to have a production model ready by 2020.