BMW Wants To Bring A Hydrogen-Fueled Race Car To The LeMans Race
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A new report from the UK discloses BMW‘s plan to build a radical hydrogen-powered fuel cell race car in 2018 for the LeMans race. It seems the evaluation is at an advanced stage, with tentative support from senior management as BMW prepares to pave the way to launch a hydrogen-powered fuel cell production car around 2020. Hydrogen has been seen as an alternative form of fuel for a while now, with the Japanese looking at creating hydrogen stations complete with hydrogen cylinders in order to fuel their cars. While many do not agree with this approach – the US and Europe have wrong with electric cars – it has not stopped research from continuing into the possibility of hydrogen-fueled power.
BMW has been investing heavily in marketing and promotion over several years to launch its i-branded models; and building a similarly advanced campaign around a LeMans bid is considered to be one way of giving the incipiency of hydrogen fuel cell technology more credibility in the minds of potential car buyers. Another hydrogen-powered model, the BMW 5 Series GT prototype, will be rolling out this year at Detroit Auto Show.
In 2013, the GreenGT H2 prototype racer, which has a maximum speed of 200 MPH, uses cell technology to generate electricity to run its high power electric motors was about to become the first vehicle without a petrol engine to compete in the LeMans 24-hour race until the Managing Director and Head of R&D for GreenGT announced the team’s withdrawal from the race with the reason of the vehicle not quite being ready for the tough endurance challenge. And this time, the World is looking at BMW’s ambitiousness. The question is, ‘which category will BMW choose to register for its new hydrogen-fuel model?’ As an established class, or as an experimental vehicle in the non-competitive “Garage 56” category that has included Nissan’s electrically assisted Deltawing and ZEOD racers in recent years. This may be seen as a more effective way of entering the race and raising awareness without being immediately judged against its more established rivals in the LeMans Prototype 1 category (LMP1) with Audi and Porsche are big names.
In a recent interview with Autosport, BMW Motorsport Boss Jens Marquardt appeared to leave the door open for a race program as innovative as entering a hydrogen-powered car, while also playing down an LMP1 entry that would pitch BMW head-to-head with the established competitors. “LMP1 is, at the moment, the big hybrid thing, and in there we wouldn’t even be the fast follower, we would be a slow follower now, as the fifth [after Audi, Toyota, Porsche and Nissan] manufacturer joining in,” he said.
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