It runs on hydrogen instead of gasoline.
BMW believes hydrogen fuel cell technology still has a future in the automotive industry, which is why the German automaker will build an FCEV version of its popular X5 SUV. Initial production of the hydrogen drivetrain began earlier this year, and now BMW has officially begun manufacturing the iX5 Hydrogen at its Munich Research and Innovation Center (FIZ) in Germany.
The iX5 will be very low volume like most FCEVs, hence why BMW decided to build it in a smaller factory with only 900 employees. Each employee works on six projects simultaneously, which hydrogen specialists on-hand for the iX5 to ensure it's ready for series production.
"Production of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen and the BMW-developed fuel cell systems demonstrates our supreme flexibility and unrivaled know-how in the field of small-scale manufacture," said Milan Nedeljkovic, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Production. "It shows we already boast the necessary expertise for integrating hydrogen technology into the BMW iFACTORY production system as an additional type of drive."
The base 2023 BMW X5 is supplied by the Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, which is then fitted with a new floor assembly that can accommodate two hydrogen tanks in the transmission tunnel area and under the rear seats. Then during the assembly stage, BMW installs the 12V and 400V electrical systems, including the high-performance battery, electric motor, and fuel cell.
The iX5 uses the same type of fifth-generation BMW eDrive motor as the company's EVs and PHEVs. Instead of deriving power from a battery, this particular car has a fuel cell installed under the hood.
This electric motor produces a healthy 373 horsepower going out to the rear wheels with an estimated range of around 311 miles. BMW has no immediate plans to sell the iX5 in the US since the FCEV market here is limited to California only.