New BMW Plant Adopts Fuel Cells

Oct. 18, 2010
BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC. is working with Plug Power Inc. to deploy 86 GenDrive fuel cell units in its lift truck fleet. The fleet includes class-1 sit-down counterbalance, class-2 reach and class-3 rider pallet trucks manufactured by The Raymond Corporation and Crown Equipment Corporation.

The power units will be used at BMW’s newly constructed Greer, South Carolina automotive manufacturing plant. They competed for this application against lead-acid batteries and fast charge batteries. In addition to a more efficient use of its facility space, BMW expects its operational costs will be reduced as a result of decreased operator and vehicle downtime. The fuel cells can be fueled by lift truck operators in 60 to 180 seconds, vs. the 20 minutes it typically takes to change out a depleted lead-acid battery.

BMW Manufacturing’s new 1.2 million sq. ft. assembly plant is being built north of its already-operational production facility. “With proven benefits to BMW’s business and an existing hydrogen infrastructure in place, there is a high potential to convert the entire campus to GenDrive-powered material handling vehicles over the next three years,” said Andy Marsh, Plug Power’s CEO.

Linde North America, a member of The Linde Group, one of the world’s largest hydrogen energy producers, is supplying the indoor hydrogen fueling system to power the trucks.

“The implementation of a hydrogen fuel cell based application for our material handling equipment helps solidify BMW’s position as the leading, sustainable automotive manufacturer,” stated Robert Hitt, Department Manager of Public Affairs for BMW Manufacturing.