PARIS -- BMW AG will offer the current-generation 7 series with hydrogen and gasoline-powered powertrains.
The gasoline-hydrogen hybrid likely will appear within the next four years, based on BMW's product life-cycle strategy. The 7 series debuted in 2001.
BMW unveiled a hydrogen combustion engine vehicle at the Paris auto show in the H2R Record Car concept. BMW is claiming several speed records for a hydrogen vehicle with theH2R.
Using a six-liter 12-cylinder engine, the car can produce 285 hp and has a top speed of 115 mph.
The vehicle's speed records have to be officially confirmed, but it could be "the fastest hydrogen-powered car in the world," says Burkhard Goeschel, BMW board member for research, development and purchasing.
Technology from the show car will be used on the 7-series production car.
The 6-liter engine in the H2R is available in the 760i and 760Li sedans. It develops 232 hp using liquid hydrogen fuel, according to BMW. This translates into a 0 to 60 mph acceleration in less than 6 seconds.
The main modifications to the 760i engine involve adapting the fuel injection system to the requirements of hydrogen fuel. Intake valves were enlarged, valve seat rings were modified, hydrogen-specific injection valves were used and moved to the intake manifold instead of the combustion chamber, a BMW spokesman said.
Several engine management changes were made to tune the engine to hydrogen's combustion characteristics.
BMW still is trying to improve on-board hydrogen storage. Availability of hydrogen also is a concern, but California, says BMW CEO Helmut Panke, is pushing "for the building of a number of hydrogen fueling stations along its west coast."