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BMW envisions hydrogen filling stations as simple, elegant

These renderings are far prettier than any modern gas station.


When the world starts building hydrogen filling stations en masse, we'll have a chance to rethink how fuel fill-ups will look. According to BMW, they're going to look pretty slick.

BMW subsidiary Designworks teamed up with Shell to envision the hydrogen filling station of the future. It's very familiar -- you'll pull up to an available pump, which has a nozzle and stands tall like current gas pumps.

Let's hope Designworks finds a place for the squeegee. Windshields will still get dirty in the clean-fuel future.


But from a design standpoint, it's far easier on the eye. The components are smoother and simplified, hiding a majority of its mechanical parts from view. Additional lights on the pump can let you see if it's available from farther away. A giant screen covers most of the pump, offering more capability than current pumps, such as the ability to look up routes on a map or learn more about hydrogen fuel.

Designworks also reinvented the nozzle itself. Since you may not be used to filling up with hydrogen, the nozzle features a screen that offers step-by-step instructions. There are very clear "On" and "Off" markers on the nozzle to help make sure you're doing everything properly.

While Designworks might be working on designs for hydrogen filling stations, BMW does not currently offer a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, which converts compressed hydrogen gas into electricity. It's expected to build a low-volume hydrogen car early in the next decade, but for the most part, BMW's competitors -- Honda, Toyota and Daimler, to name a few -- have been responsible for the hydrogen cars on the road today.


Instead of just assuming the nozzle is connected, some mechanical movement and large "On" and "Off" labels make everything straightforward.