BMW Hydrogen 7 Review

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Driving the Hydrogen 7

In order for me to drive the Hydrogen 7 for a week, all I had to do was travel to Los Angeles, where the U.S. fleet and the primary fueling station were headquartered.

Once there, it took over 90 minutes to get to BMW’s research facility in Oxnard, where a blue water metallic Hydrogen 7 awaited me.  I was greeted by Andreas Klugescheid, corporate communications manager from BMW’s Engineering and Emissions Test Center and John Lowery, who would be my personal care advisor (PCA) while I had the car.

Before they would give me key, I received a thorough orientation on the use of the car and then some paperwork. All of the car’s systems were reviewed by John (who would be available 24×7 by phone in case I had any questions or problems) as this was no ordinary 7er Series.

The Hydrogen 7, unlike your typical car, has a release valve on the roof in case the system needs to release hydrogen.  The presence of this valve meant that the car should not – under any circumstances – be parked indoors.

This made me slightly apprehensive, but I was assured that, unlike the Hindenburg, liquid hydrogen won’t explode, although it will burn. In that regard, it is probably safer than gasoline if it spills.

Most cars also don’t have a very large, insulated tank in the trunk of the car – a tank so bulky that, even though the seats were moved up 4.5”, there is still a bulge visible behind the rear seats.

Also during my orientation, I learnt that liquid hydrogen must be kept at -423° F (-253° C).  Only liquid helium, at -452°F (-268° C), is colder.

In addition to the car’s satellite navigation system, the Hydrogen 7 also had a separate GPS system, the kind which is used in corporate fleets to track vehicles.  Any problem (a stall or failure to start, an accident, an operating system fault) would be reported to my PCA and the system regularly transmitted technical and automotive operations data for vehicle systems to BMW.

Since the Hydrogen 7 had the older, first-generation iDrive and satnav systems, I was also given a refresher course on their use.

Then came the paperwork.  This was no ordinary set of documents: I had to sign a Vehicle License Agreement (think “license” in the sense of software use, not as in a license plate) and a document stating that I had received the Safety Orientation.  It’s important to note that the Hydrogen 7ers, were they to be available for sale, would probably cost in excess of half a million dollars each, so BMW’s caution here was understandable.   Click here to continue to page 5.

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