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BMW i8 hydrogen fuel cell research vehicle revealed

Snapshot: BMW has staged the world premiere of the i8 hydrogen fuel cell research vehicle.

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Looking like some sort of Batmobile, the menacing i8 is not exactly a new car as development stopped by 2012, but it was only recently at the 2015 BMW Innovation Days in Miramas, France where the Bavarian marque showed the hydrogen fuel cell research vehicle to the audience. For the moment there aren’t any plans to put the car into production, but the hydrogen fuel cell technology implemented in the car will evolve and eventually trickle down on road-going cars.

The research vehicle is based on the BMW i8, but adopts a sinister matte black paint on a slightly modified body that comes with bigger air intakes necessary to direct air to several radiators mounted at the front. It also comes with a more angular radiator grille while the headlights are now fully integrated.

Moving at the back, it has a less complex layout compared to the regular i8 while underneath the familiar skin there are some big changes as BMW’s engineers have installed a hydrogen storage system and the necessary fuel cell hardware. The 1.5-liter engine mounted at the back in the standard i8 has been removed to make room for the fuel cell stack while the interior cabin was done by using parts from various models.

BMW says the i8 hydrogen fuel cell has completed its duties as a research vehicle after being used extensively in the first development phase of hydrogen fuel cells. Interestingly, the car has the same fuel cell stack as the one inside the Toyota Mirai which is being billed as being the first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell car in the world. This is because Toyota and BMW have a joint venture to work on this technology so in the years to come we should expect both automakers to roll out advanced eco-friendly cars.

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