The iX5 is being put through its paces in the bitterly chilly Arctic circle.
While Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz may have pioneered the plush SUV, only one brand was able to inject a healthy dose of sheer driving pleasure. Especially when equipped with a delightful V8, the BMW X5 is still the consummate performance SUV. At the price point, few can rival the incredible mix of performance, dynamism, and luxury. As the Bavarian brand embraces electromobility, one would imagine vehicles such as the X5 will soon be relegated to the history books.
But it's not as simple as that. The brand's CEO has spoken out against banning combustion engines and, while he's said the carmaker will be ready for any ban, he doesn't believe it's a good idea. The luxury carmaker hasn't given up on alternative energy sources as yet and is currently developing a hydrogen-powered SUV, dubbed the iX5. Scheduled to arrive near the end of this year, the big Bimmer is wrapping up its final testing, including an icy stint in the Arctic Circle.
BMW says the demanding test program has shown no chinks in the iX5's armor. Everything from the fuel cell system to the hydrogen tanks performed flawlessly, despite the sub-zero temperatures. For several months, the hydrogen-powered SUV has been put to task, undergoing strenuous long-distance and weather tests to ensure customers receive a well-rounded product.
"The winter testing under extreme conditions clearly shows that the BMW iX5 Hydrogen can also deliver full performance in temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) and therefore represents a viable alternative to a vehicle powered by a battery-electric drive system," said BMW's Frank Weber. While gas and, to a degree, EV charging stations are common, hydrogen pumps are less so.
The automaker is hoping to change that, committing itself to expanding the filling station network. Weber noted, "For us to be able to offer our customers a fuel cell drive system as an attractive sustainable mobility solution, a sufficiently extensive hydrogen infrastructure also needs to be in place."
A benefit over traditional EVs is that even at low temperatures, a hydrogen car operates just as well as an ICE vehicle, in terms of daily usability. In cold weather, drivers have the full system power at their disposal and, more importantly, the range is not impacted.
BMW believes in the hydrogen setup, noting it will provide consumers with the best of both worlds: emission-free driving and unrestricted mobility - filling the tank takes just three to four minutes. We applaud BMW for acknowledging the future of motoring isn't necessarily EV-only. Rival German companies Porsche and Audi are working on their own innovative ideas that may just extend the life of the ICE engine. All three should be applauded for the open-minded approach.