BMW recently unveiled an i8-based research vehicle that it built several years ago when it first started looking at developing a production-ready hydrogen fuel cell stack. A new video from YouTube channel Cars confirms that the vehicle sounds almost as strange as it looks.
That’s because fuel cell vehicles are essentially extended-range electric cars that use a fuel cell stack to charge their onboard battery instead of an internal combustion engine. And because the powertrain is virtually silent, the only noise you get when the car is running is from the wind and the tires. The weird body of this research vehicle has been designed in a way to improve aerodynamic efficiency.
While Toyota—and soon Honda—is pushing ahead with mass-produced fuel cell vehicles, BMW, like most automakers, is taking a more cautious approach to the technology in order to see which way the market turns. BMW says its aim is simply to have a production-ready fuel cell by 2020, and may produce a fuel cell car beyond this date should the market demand one.