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BMW Turns To Hydrogen – For Its Factory

Once-promising technology goes to work on the assembly line.

by on Oct.13, 2010

There'll be 85 hydrogen-powered forlifts and other loaders at the BMW Spartanburg plant.

Remember the fuel cell?  Not all that long ago, it seemed like the technology bound to replace the internal combustion engine.

But, for the moment, at least, the hydrogen-based power source has fallen out of favor, the automotive world now focusing its attention on more promising battery technology.

But while the hopes of switching to hydrogen power in the next decade may be largely gone, the fuel cell is anything but forgotten, as BMW is demonstrating at its newly-expanded assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The German maker will be switching from conventional forklifts, tuggers and stackers to ones powered by compact fuel cell systems, it says.

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There’s a heavy emphasis on sustainability at the enlarged factory, which is now ramping up production of the next-generation X3 crossover, explains Josef Kerscher, President of BMW Manufacturing. “There’s a clear vision and determination to reach our goal of using renewable energy as much as possible throughout the plant site.”