One of BMW’s standouts at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show was the X5-based i Hydrogen Next Concept. It wasn’t so much about showing the next-gen X5 but BMW’s prototype hydrogen-electric, a culmination of their joint research with Toyota since 2013.
Earlier this week, BMW has provided initial details of the powertrain and indicated its plan to put the concept into limited production in 2022. You can’t buy the X5, sales are only open to select customers. In fact, BMW doesn’t expect to have any hydrogen-electric powered vehicles on dealership floors until 2025 at the earliest. Only market conditions can change their mind.
In case you didn’t know, a hydrogen-electric vehicle is basically an EV that draws power from hydrogen fuel cell stacks instead of battery packs. Electricity will be generated when hydrogen from 2 tanks, stored in the central tunnel and under the rear seats, is combined with oxygen drawn in from the air. This process takes place in the fuel cell located up front where an internal combustion engine would traditionally be found. This directly powers the electric motor mounted on the rear axle.
The electricity generated would also charge a small battery that acts as a power reserve for the electric motor during high-load situations. With the hydrogen fuel cell providing an estimated 167 hp, the total system output is expected to be around 370 hp.
BMW has stated that they are “working on the assumption that, in future, various alternative types of drive system will exist alongside one another, as there is no single solution that covers the complete spectrum of customers’ mobility needs worldwide”. They go on to state that with the development partnership of Toyota and the global Hydrogen Council, it “aims to forge a united vision and push ahead with the long-term ambition of a hydrogen-fuelled energy revolution.”