The pre-production vehicle that the German manufacturer has just released, the BMW ix5 Hydrogen, could give rise to a model in the second half of the decade. The aim is to be competitive with electric vehicles.
In terms of finish, there’s nothing to complain about. Same goes for performance. We really appreciated this angel or demon aspect, with the choice between cool driving and à la carte sportiness (with a sport mode and the Iconic sounds electric noise function) to let the 400 hp do the talking when you need it. Furthermore, the engineers have managed to make the noise of the air compressor disappear. But the BMW ix5 Hydrogen is not for sale… yet!
“We’ve released a few dozen models for testing around the world,” explains Juergen Guldner, head of the hydrogen project at BMW.* Guldner, who worked on the brand’s very first hybrid – an X6 in 2009 – is pleased with the public’s response to the vehicle. The group’s senior management quite liked it, including CEO Oliver Zipse, who fully supports the project (see our article). And those who have been able to try out the iX5 Hydrogen, including Hydrogen Today, are impressed by the result.
Reaching the same price as electric cars
But the brand wants to go further. Their aim now is to be as competitive as battery electric cars. “We still have a lot of work to do,” admits Mr Guldner. “But that’s what we’re aiming for.” However, he believes that volumes in heavy mobility (buses, trucks, trains) will help to reduce costs and make the technology more affordable. As for a future production model, “the decision hasn’t been taken yet.” It will depend on a number of factors, including the creation of a network of stations and the cost of hydrogen.
For the record, BMW wanted to show that the ecosystem is being put in place with players such as Lhyfe at Bouin (Vendée, France) and the multi-energy station at La Roche-sur-Yon (60 km South). These two locations in were not chosen randomly.
In terms of range, there will be a slight improvement. Smaller but more numerous tanks will be housed in the space provided under the floor for the batteries. The range could increase from 500 to 700 km.
A Toyota fuel cell for the BMW ix5 Hydrogen?
However, it would be very surprising if BMW didn’t go further. The arrival in 2025 of the Neue Klasse architecture (which will optimise electric components) may make the production possible. In which case, we can probably expect a release date for 2028. And allegedly with a Toyota fuel cell. “The technology is efficient and our partner can produce at scale,” Juergen Guldner points out. The schedule is in line with what other manufacturers are planning. Despite what some may think, hydrogen-powered cars will be useful in a number of applications.
*His video interview will be broadcast as part of the Hydrogen Business for Climate forum on 4 October. It focuses on the brand’s hydrogen strategy and the coexistence of technologies (fuel cells and H2 combustion engines).
Do you want to find out more about the BMW ix5 Hydrogen? Then this article should interest you.
Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King