Company wants to expand hydrogen fuel-cell offerings going forward.

Plug-in hybrid cars are just a stopgap measure, and the ultimate solution to green mobility will be a combination of full-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. That’s according to Merten Jung, BMW head of fuel cell development, who told Digital Trends that plug-in hybrids will eventually vanish from our roads.

“We expect that battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles will co-exist in the future, and plug-in hybrids are a simply a temporary solution until we get to that point,” he said.

Jung explained that full-electric drivetrains would work well for smaller cars aimed at shorter commutes, while hydrogen power is ideal for larger vehicles that travel longer distances. The combination of the two types of alternative-fuel vehicles, Jung told Digital Trends, would reduce the need for the plug-in hybrids like those on sale today.

“The cost and the weight of an EV mainly depend on the size of the battery; if you have a small battery, electric makes more sense than hydrogen. The break-even point is 300-400 kilometers (186-248 miles),” Jung said. “With an electric vehicle, if you want to go beyond 300-400 kilometers you need to make the battery pack bigger, heavier, and more expensive, and you’ll reach a certain point where it won’t make sense anymore.”

One big stumbling block for fuel-cell cars is a lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure, but many countries are now investing in developing more filling stations. “The advantage is that you can convert existing gas stations to hydrogen stations, so you can build the network step-by-step,” Jung said.

For now, BMW offers plug-in hybrid versions of many of its models, including options ranging from the i8 sports car to the 330e sedan, and even the X5 xDrive 40e and the planned X1 PHEV. Yet the automaker has also shown it sees the importance of full-electric models, with the i3 already on sale and an all-electric flagship car due in 2021. As to fuel cells, BMW engineers have experimented with an i8 converted to hydrogen power and a fuel-cell-powered 5 Series GT.

Source: Digital Trends

Gallery: BMW sees plug-in hybrids as stopgap

Got a tip for us? Email: