Toyota isn't the only one pushing for hydrogen.
Going electric is the thing of the moment for a lot of automakers. In addition to boutique electric marques like Rivian, Tesla, and Lucid, OEMs the world over are announcing their lineups are going to be "all-electric by 20XX." However, there are still some holdouts. Honda only makes one electric vehicle, despite pledging to ramp up EV production by 2030. Toyota is still putting serious cash into hydrogen despite cars like the bZ4X, and BMW, well BMW just doesn't want to go electric.
Despite the introduction of the BMW X5 Hybrid and BMW iX, the brand still maintains that going full-EV isn't the way to go. That's why it wanted to remind everyone at a roundtable discussion that the Bavarian brand is still very much into hydrogen.
BMW board member responsible for sales and marketing, Pieter Nota, said that BMW is still involved in hydrogen powertrain development. There's no better metaphor for Nota's statements than the BMW iX5 Hydrogen prototype, which will be launching in 2023. Speaking with Dutch publication Autoweek, the executive had this to say:
"We see hydrogen specifically as a solution for larger SUVs, such as the X5, but also the X7, for example."
However, despite the brand affirming its commitment to hydrogen, BMW knows it's going to be a slow crawl to a fully production-ready hydrogen car for the global market. The iX5 won't be mass-produced, at least not initially. Instead, BMW says a small fleet of the hydrogen SUVs will be made available to media, VIPs, and certain customers. We're betting only Bimmer's most loyal buyers will get a shot to have a go in the brand's hydrogen car.
While we think it's great BMW wants to carry the gas-powered car into a more efficient future, we're still skeptical about the jump to hydrogen, especially in the US. BMW says it'll only take 3-5 minutes to fill up a hydrogen X5's fuel cells, but that's not the problem. The problem is hydrogen infrastructure. We don't have enough of it in the US, and many other countries could say the same.
However, BMW says that it still feels hydrogen power could be useful for long-distance vehicles in the future. We're thinking logistics. BMW could integrate a fleet of hydrogen cars within its own corporate travel infrastructure, providing fueling pretty much anywhere with a BMW logo out front, from factories to dealers. How all this plays out for BMW remains to be seen, and next moves will likely be announced ahead of the iX5 Hydrogen debut.