BMW has been toying around with the idea of a hydrogen vehicle for many years and the Bavarians even trialed a fuel cell 7 Series during the mid-2000s. They’ll be doing the same with the current-generation X5 as the midsize luxury SUV will spawn a limited-run hydrogen derivative in 2022 to serve as a test bed. The i Hydrogen Next was previewed last September at the Frankfurt Motor Show and now BMW is willing to share more details about the alternatively powered X5.
Speaking of power, the total system output – including the muscle coming from the newly developed electric powertrain shared with the iX3 – will be a respectable 369 horsepower (275 kilowatts). Its fuel cell system alone generates as much as 168 hp (125 kW) of electric energy as a result of the chemical reaction between hydrogen and the oxygen from the ambient air, with the vehicle emitting only water vapor. There are two 700-bar tanks with each holding six kilograms of hydrogen that can be refilled in 3-4 minutes, so just about the same time needed to fill up a gasoline or diesel car.
While the X5-based i Hydrogen Next due in 2022 will only be a pilot program in a small series, BMW aims to make its fuel cell tech available on a broader scale by introducing a production model past 2025, provided there will be enough demand and the market conditions will allow it. Toyota is involved in the project as the two companies have been collaborating on fuel cell powertrain systems as well as scalable, modular components for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles since 2013.
The Japanese marque has been selling a fuel cell car for quite a while considering the Mirai came out in 2015 and will enter a second generation at the end of this year. Rumor has it BMW is interested in launching a hydrogen-electric X7, but it’s too early to know for sure since the German marque believes the current conditions are not yet suitable for a fuel cell production car.