BMW AG will sell hydrogen-fueled, internal-combustion (IC) engine versions of its new 7-Series to European consumers as soon as the '08 model year. The company is working with the European Commission and individual European governments to develop a hydrogen infrastructure to support the region.

BMW has a fleet of 4.4L V-8 745s fueled by liquid hydrogen circling the globe as part of its CleanEnergy World Tour.

Unlike many competitors, BMW doesn't believe fuel-cell powertrains are the answer in the near-term. BMW is concentrating on IC engines that run on both liquid hydrogen and gasoline. BMW contends using the IC will not sacrifice vehicle performance and provides consumers powertrains with which they're comfortably familiar.

“We don't believe the fuel cell will work as a drivetrain within the next few years. The internal combustion engine is well known, and it is easier to redevelop the engine,” says Christoph Huss, BMW senior vice president-science and traffic policy.

BMW's current plans are to develop dual-fuel capable 7-Series which enables the engine to operate using liquid hydrogen or regular gasoline. Range and performance for the 745h have not been sacrificed, BMW says. While operating on liquid hydrogen, the 745h can travel 180 miles (300 km) with a top speed of 135 mph (215 km/h) at a power output of 181 hp.

BMW is confident the dual-fuel system will provide the best of both worlds to the consumer, who can use hydrogen where available and rely on gasoline where no hydrogen filling stations exist.