Memorandum from BMW
The main focus of this contribution is to provide
BMW's views on the long-term sustainable environmental approach
to automotive engines and fuels.
BMW is the world leader in the automobile industry
in terms of sustained economic viability as identified in the
Dow Jones Sustainability rating both in 1999 and last year. Our
concern and emphasis on all aspects of environment has also led
us to become the first company to hold an environment certificate
for all our worldwide production facilities.
This strategic approach to the environment extends
of course to vehicle production and in particular to the evaluation
of engines and fuels. Over the past twenty or thirty years we
have investigated in depth almost all possible automotive engine
and alternative fuel technologies.
Our conclusions are very clear, the fuel of
the future, indeed the energy carrier of the future has to be
Hydrogen can be produced in ecologically friendly
processes from water using electric power (solar energy/hydro/wind/wave).
When hydrogen is used as a fuel in a car, it combines with oxygen
to form water. The result is only water with no noxious emissions
and no CO2 emissions.
There is a growing consensus among car manufacturers
and their partners that hydrogen is the fuel of the future. There
are different approaches to the precise technology solutions.
BMW believes that hydrogen should be used as
a direct internal combustion engine fuel to replace petrol. BMW
has developed this technology over twenty years. It has recently
manufactured, in series production, fifteen 7-series cars equipped
with liquid hydrogen fuel tanks. These vehicles have operated
successfully on a shuttle service at the recent Hanover 2000 Trade
fair. The vehicles also use hydrogen to power an on-board fuel
cell that replaces the car battery. BMW plans to put on sale a
hydrogen version of its new 7-series car.
Other manufacturers are developing hydrogen
fuel cells to enable the car to generate sufficient electricity
to drive the whole vehicle. These developments still have some
way to go in terms of reliability and affordability before they
can be introduced.
There are common issues facing all these new
The sourcing of the hydrogen;
The distribution of the hydrogen;
The cost of the new technology; and
Ideally, the source of the hydrogen should be
sustainable and fuel stations should be set up to provide compressed
and liquid hydrogen to the motorist.
In practice, a transition strategy will be necessary
to move from the current position.
This is especially important as actions are
now being taken in the field of environmental taxation that ought
to be linked to a long-term strategy.
The Cleaner Vehicle Task Force provided advice
to the Government regarding a list of short/medium term measures
regarding alternative fuels and engine technologies.
A longer-term strategic approach is now required
in which environmental incentives will certainly have a role to
Such a strategy would enable the short-term
initiatives of car manufacturers to be put into context and to
receive appropriate encouragement. These include trying to obtain
hydrogen from petrol or methanol reformulation, or using natural
gas in compressed or liquid form as a stepping stone to the setting
up of a full hydrogen supply infrastructure.
A selective provision of hydrogen from non-sustainable
sources can be environmentally acceptable in the short/medium
term in the context of a transition strategy towards a sustainable
renewable hydrogen infrastructure.
We would envisage that the main sources of sustainable
hydrogen in the future would be from solar energy plants in the
hot deserts of the world or from countries with significant hydroelectric
However, there are many other options and work
should be done to explore the possible renewable sources of hydrogen
in the UK.