BMW began developing a hydrogen fuel cell crossover four years ago. The project is about to enter its next critical phase with the introduction of the first iX5 Hydrogen crossovers from the company. The automaker will produce less than 100 vehicles and test them with various target groups when the fleet enters service later this year.
BMW Group sources the individual fuel cells from Toyota, producing the fuel cell stacks at its in-house hydrogen centre in Munich. The two have been collaborating on fuel cell drive systems since 2013, just one facet of a partnership that has also spawned the new Supra. The automaker integrates the fuel cell system with its fifth-generation eDrive powertrain technology, which includes the electric motor, transmission, and specially developed lithium-ion battery.
Gallery: BMW iX5 Hydrogen Launches
The powertrain system produces a combined 401 bhp (295 kilowatts). According to the company, the iX5 can travel up to 313 miles (504 kilometres) on the WLTP cycle and refuel in about three to four minutes. The vehicle features two carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic tanks that can store almost 6 kilograms of hydrogen. The iX5 sprints to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometres per hour) in less than 6 seconds, reaching a top speed of over 112 mph (180 kph).
BMW will build the iX5 Hydrogen crossover at its Research Innovation Centre, where around 900 people are working to ensure the product and the manufacturing process are ready for series production. Last August, BMW revealed that it would begin mass production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles jointly developed with Toyota as soon as 2025.
Battery-electric vehicles are all the rage, with traditional automakers chasing Tesla’s popularity. However, some are also continuing to explore other alternatives to fossil fuels. Porsche is already producing synthetic petrol, while BMW, Toyota, and others haven’t given up on the hope of making hydrogen happen.
“Hydrogen is a versatile energy source that has a key role to play in the energy transition process and, therefore, in climate protection,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. According to Zipse, hydrogen is “one of the most efficient ways of storing and transporting renewable energies. We should use this potential to also accelerate the transformation of the mobility sector.”