Production versions are on their way.
Toyota and Hyundai are still working on hydrogen-powered cars, and BMW is persevering with innovating here too, despite traditional electric cars being the easy way out. Last year, we heard that Munich's most famous motor vehicle manufacturer would be building a hydrogen-powered X5 and that it would arrive sometime in 2022. Today, BMW announced that this new model, called the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, is undergoing thorough testing and is almost ready for series production.
As part of this testing, the SUV is being evaluated "under real-life conditions" to ensure that the CO2-free drivetrain, electronics systems, and chassis work together well.
BMW says that the production version will be sold in low volumes, but why is BMW bothering with hydrogen at all when it has already got electric vehicles on sale and others in development? Frank Weber, BMW's member of the Board of Management responsible for Development, says that "Hydrogen fuel cell technology can be an attractive option for sustainable drivetrains - especially in larger vehicle classes."
Hydrogen cars are being developed to supplement BMW's other offerings so that those without access to charging infrastructure, as well as those who frequently drive long distances, have a clean alternative with the same benefits as gasoline.
Hydrogen's biggest drawcard is that, like gasoline-powered cars, refilling the tank takes just three to four minutes. And because there's no temperature-sensitive battery pack, performance is consistent and reliable no matter the weather. BMW wants this to be more than just a marketing exercise and is keen for the tech to be widely adopted. It is also collaborating with Toyota, which has supplied the individual cells, while all other components are BMW-made.
With that in mind, engineers are also testing these prototypes to ensure that they drive like proper BMWs. BMW says that we can expect 368 horsepower, matching the performance of non-M BMW models. Expect the hydrogen-powered version of the BMW X5 to launch late next year.