BMW unveils vision of hydrogen future and it's pure Mad Max

Tweaked i8 can run for 489km on a single tank of hydrogen and emits nothing but water

The car in front of you is not the love child of one of Batman's playthings and an extra from Mad Max, but rather BMW's recent vision of an alternatively fuelled future.

German engineers lifted the lid on the marque's future developments at a recent Group Innovation Day at the gruelling Miramas test facility in France, which included an indication that hydrogen power is firmly in the planning pipeline for future models. 

The heavily modified BMW i8 pictured here was just one part of the planet-saving party but it was arguably the most interesting - shunning the typical 1.5-litre three-cylinder patrol engine and electric motors for a pure fuel cell set up.

BMW claims it has dramatically reduced the i8's weight thanks to a strict carbon-fibre diet, while a stack of advanced fuel cells now sits at the rear of the car where the engine used to be. 

These stacks are fed with hydrogen thanks to a couple of large tanks stowed out of sight between the front and rear axle. And, without getting too scientific, the hydrogen then reacts within these cells to create electricity that powers high-performance electric motors.

Power is rated at 242bhp, which is 115bhp down on the current petrol/electric i8, but thanks to its lightweight construction, this hydrogen monster can still manage 0-100kmph in 6.0-seconds and a top speed of 200kmph with nothing but water emitted from the pipes.

Better still, a single tank should be good for 483-km of emissions-free motoring. Refuelling, meanwhile, is as simple as pulling up to a pump and filling up like a regular petrol or diesel machine.

We also have to mention the styling, which is beyond brilliant. The engineers claim the heavily sculpted, aerodynamic nose is designed to slip through the air and provide as much oxygen as possible for a series of massive radiators that cool the hydrogen tanks; we just think it looks awesome.

Unfortunately, this is just a prototype for now, but BMW is busy working alongside Toyota to realise a hydrogen-powered future - and it's one that could arrive as soon as the year 2020.