Published June 27, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
As recently as December, BMW had said it and and General Motors were cooperating on fuel cell vehicle research, but now word has it that their agreement is no more.
"We are still talking to GM, but no longer on the topic of fuel cells," said BMW AG spokesman Alexander Bilgeriman to Automotive News today.
Instead, BMW will reportedly build on electrified vehicle research commitments with Toyota, as mentioned a couple days ago, and in March when the two automakers were said to be working on a next generation battery.
BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer and Toyota President Akio Toyoda have scheduled a press conference for Friday, so we shall see whether further disclosure on the potential alliance is offered.
In any case, as fuel cells are believed to be years away from mainstream viability, and automakers are continually being driven by regulatory pressures to pool resources to co-develop advanced technology, what the latest snippet of news will mean remains to be seen.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are essentially a form of electrified transportation but with severe cost hurdles, and lacking infrastructure, they present a “chicken and egg” barrier seen by some as more daunting than introducing battery powered vehicles to a world built on petroleum power.
No reasons for the cessation of hydrogen fuel cell talks with GM were given by BMW, and GM declined to comment as to why the relationship was curtailed.
What is known is Toyota is well along in its fuel cell development path, intends to launch its first fuel cell vehicle in 2015, but GM also has years of fuel cell research behind it.
GM has shown running fuel cell prototypes, and presently is researching the technology in cooperation with the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, among other projects.
Perhaps we’ll learn more on Friday after the BMW-Toyota press conference.