I had the opportunity to take the BMW Hydrogen 7 car for a spin yesterday afternoon with an engineer from BMW in Munich– something only open to TED attendees. While the experience wasn’t exactly life changing, essentially everything inside and out looks and feels the same as your normal 7 Series BMW– the realization that I was driving a car which exhaust was nothing more than water was wonderfully fascinating. There’s literally a button on the steering wheel titled H2 that you can press to seamlessly switch between gasoline and H2– I tried it at full throttle and although the engine sound drastically changed, I felt little difference in acceleration (apparently there is almost no change in performance). The hard lesson BMW is facing (or perhaps denying) is that basically the energy outlay to create hydrogen is more than the use of hydrogen itself saves. With that said it was definitely a blast to drive!
Also see: BMW H2R, September 24th 2004