BMW Boasts Largest Hydrogen Fuel Cell Fleet

Joanna Schroeder

BMW Manufacturing has expanded its use of Plug Power hydrogen fuel cells at its Spartanburg, South facility to power all material handle trucks and forklifts. The company now has 272 units in its fleet, making it the largest such fleet in North America. In 2010, BMW installed a storage and distribution area for BMW's Plug Power GenDrive hydrogen systemhydrogen supplied by Linde Industrial Gases near its 4-million square foot production facility and then equipped 100 forklift trucks and pallet jacks in its X3 assembly hall with Plug Power’s GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell system.

“BMW’s ongoing commitment to clean production is evident in our recent expansion of our hydrogen fuel cell program,” said Duncan Seaman, BMW Group, Head of Market Operations, Americas. “We appreciate Linde’s partnership in supporting the expansion, making our entire operation more sustainable.”

GenDrive hydrogen fuel cells are an alternative to lead-acid batteries in the $20 billion global material handling market. According to Plug Power, use of the fuel cells lowers operational costs, produces zero emissions and improves reliability. Fuel cell usage also eliminates the need for large battery storage and charging rooms, freeing up valuable production space and removing any lead and sulfuric acid contamination from the work environment. Since battery charging is no longer required, total electricity demand is reduced and the fees associated with battery recycling and disposal are eliminated.“The expansion of BMW’s hydrogen fuel cell material handling fleet in Spartanburg makes BMW one of the world’s largest users of hydrogen fuel cells at a single site,” added Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power. “This milestone is significant because it demonstrates that a GenDrive solution can profitably scale to bring enormous benefits to the organization including increased productivity, cost savings and carbon-footprint reductions.”

Alternative energy, automotive, Hydrogen