BMW is likely to be the very first mass-market manufacturer to make a hydrogen-drive car commercially available.

After successful completion of a development programme, the BMW Hydrogen 7 - a H-powered version of the 7 Series - has been unveiled. Powered by a hydrogen combustion engine - a 260bhp twelve-cylinder unit able - the Hydrogen 7 is capable of a 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds and top speed of 143mph.

But as hydrogen isn’t likely to be in abundance on garage forecourts, the dual-mode power unit can switch seamlessly over to conventional petrol.

BMW said: “Offering the world this highly practical solution, BMW is not only demonstrating its leadership in technology in the area of future-oriented drive systems … the integration of hydrogen drive in an existing vehicle concept which has already proven its merits in the market paves the way for an alternative to conventional drive concepts fully accepted in the market and with all the assets the customer is looking for in practice.

It’s not yet clear how soon hydrogen-powered vehicles will be on the market, but industry analysts say it could be within 5 years.