Mike Stevens | Dec 13, 2011

BMW and General Motors are reportedly nearing an agreement to share GM's fuel-cell technology, and to collaborate in the development of future systems, according to German business paper Wirtschaftswoche.

The report follows news last week that BMW has entered into a partnership with Toyota that will see the German carmaker share its small diesel engines while working with Toyota to develop new lithium-ion battery systems.

Until now, BMW's exploration of hydrogen technology has been limited to two projects: the "H2-ICE" (Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine) Hydrogen 7, and last year's 1 Series Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.

Rather than using a fuel-cell battery to power an electric motor, the Hydrogen 7 system injects hydrogen directly into the air-intake manifold for combustion.

The Hydrogen 7 is a costly option, however: able to run on both petrol and hydrogen (think LPG-petrol systems), the car uses 13.9 l/100km of fuel in petrol mode - while the 170 litre hydrogen tank will only get you a 200km trip.

In the case of the 1 Series project, BMW collaborated with UTC Power to install a hydrogen fuel-cell in an otherwise conventional petrol-electric hybrid vehicle.

Details for the potential BMW/GM partnership are limited for now, with a BMW spokesperson telling the paper only that discussions are underway, "but we're not saying anything more than that".

(Pictured: GM's Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel-cell test vehicle.)

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