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Old 04-01-2008, 11:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default BMW Hydrogen-Powered 7-Series: New York Auto Show Test Drive

Traffic outside the Javits Center, site of the New York International Auto Show, is heavy—even by Big Apple standards. That means that you probably could walk across 11th Avenue from the roof of one taxicab to another without seeing asphalt. The pungent aroma of a flotilla of bright yellow Ford Crown Victorias rises into the air over the sidewalk. It’s a perfect venue to test drive the BMW Hydrogen 7:

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Imagine if every taxi in NYC were powered by the BMW’s hydrogen-fueled V8: The only thing coming out of their tailpipes would be water vapor. Filling part of the Bimmer’s trunk space is a tank filled with cryogenic hydrogen, enough to drive the luxury sedan about 150 miles. Of course, that’s not a full shift for most cab drivers—so by simply pushing a button on the steering wheel that looks like it would change stations on the stereo, you can toggle the Hydrogen 7’s engine to run on plain ol’ unleaded gas, delivered from the same tank through the same direct injection system as a normal 7-series sedan.
I pull the Hydrogen 7 out into traffic and joust my way over to the West Side Highway and trundle up to 40-or-so miles per hour, far slower than its’ touted 154-mph top speed. The H7 is running just fine, so I thumb the H2 button on the wheel and—exactly nothing happens. The speed and note of the engine change not one bit. I drive a few miles further, trying the translation from an exotic-fueled Car of the Future to luxury roadburning Teutonic übercar a few more times, with similarly uneventful outcomes. BMW will be building around a hundred of these proof-of-concept vehicles for fleet users, so the public won’t be able to buy one for a few years yet. —Mike Allen

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