The BMW H2R, which came out in 2004, was the gleaming, high-tech fruit of over 25 years of experimentation and innovation.
In 1979, BMW developed the 520, a prototype vehicle featuring an engine that ran on either hydrogen or gasoline. Building on the potential of the 520, BMW produced and road tested three generations of hydrogen-powered cars from 1984 to 1996 and in 2000 introduced the 5.0-liter V-12 750hL, the company's fifth-generation hydrogen car.
In 2001, BMW produced its sixth-generation hydrogen concept car, the 4.4-liter V-8 745h. It had two fuel tanks -- one for hydrogen and one for gasoline. When running on hydrogen, the 745h generated 182 horsepower, reached 62 miles per hour (100 kph) in 9.9 seconds and had a top speed of 134 mph (216 kph).
In 2004, BMW unveiled the H2R hydrogen-powered concept racecar, which went on to set nine speed records for hydrogen-combustion vehicles at the Miramas Proving Grounds in France.
To learn more about the science of hydrogen as a fuel source, see How the Hydrogen Economy Works. For more information on the H2R and other concept cars, check out the links on the next page.