What do you get when you imagine Ricky Bobby, the larger-than-life cinematic caricature of a NASCAR star, behind the wheel of a hydrogen-powered, German-made luxury sedan?
BMW of North America LLC hopes the combination equals marketing gold.
While there is no real-life Bobby, the auto maker did the next-best thing by contracting with Will Ferrell, who portrayed the character in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Based on a long-wheelbase BMW 760i, BMW is loaning H7s to world opinion leaders. And the deal with Ferrell, who ranks among the film industry’s top money-earners, marks the car’s first stop in Hollywood.
“By harnessing the power and influence of individuals who, like Will Ferrell, are at the forefront of their respective disciplines, BMW hopes to continue to generate support of hydrogen-drive vehicles in the short term and stimulate demand for a viable hydrogen infrastructure in the long-term,” the auto maker says in a statement.
A 100-unit test fleet has been making the rounds in Europe where drivers have ranged from top politicians to opera star Anna Netrebko. To date, they have logged more than 1.3 million miles (2.1 million km).
Powered by a 6.0L 260-hp V-12 engine, the H7 is capable of burning gasoline or liquid hydrogen. The latter extends the car’s range by 124 miles (200 km), to 434 miles (700 km).
Under hydrogen power, which emits only water vapor, estimates suggest the H7 is capable of achieving 17-18 mpg (13.3-13.9 L/100 km).
BMW is mum on the identities of future Hollywood test drivers.