BMW to Push Hydrogen Options at IAA


BMW will showcase its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain capabilities at IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich next month clearly indicating it will not be placing all its faith in BEV.

Two years after unveiling the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT concept car, the automaker will present the BMW iX5 Hydrogen. While currently in series development, the crossover car, essentially a fuel cell converted X5, will be one of several vehicles visitors can experience during drives along the Blue Lane connecting the main exhibition grounds with other exhibition venues in the city center.

In a release, the automaker said it believes hydrogen fuel cell technology has the potential to become a further pillar in the BMW Group’s drive train portfolio sitting within its BMW I branding. Albeit it stressed this is dependent on hydrogen being readily available with production using renewable energy backed up by dedicated infrastructure. The technology could meet the needs of customers who do not have their own access to electric charging infrastructure, frequently drive long distances or desire a high degree of flexibility.

Hydrogen-specific features on the iX5 Hydrogen include mesh inserts covering the cooling air openings at the front as well as the rear apron and its diffuser element. The ornamental grilles covering the BMW kidney grille, the lower and two outer air inlets and the body elements for the lower rear end trim all come from the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Campus, which uses 3D printing to produce prototype and standard parts.

The car’s aerodynamic wheels come with sustainably produced tires made of natural rubber and rayon. The raw materials for this are extracted in compliance with the standards of the independent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) organization. BMW claims to be the first automaker to use Pirelli tires made exclusively from certified natural rubber and the wood-based material rayon in its production vehicles.

The also features BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive delivering an electrical output of up to 166bhp. In coasting overrun and braking phases, eDrive serves as a generator, feeding energy into a power battery. The energy stored in this power battery is also used for occasional extra performance delivering a system output of 370bhp.

The automaker points to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), stating that hydrogen offers many advantages over BEV technology. In BMW’s release its said: “Thanks to its storage and transport capabilities, hydrogen can be used for a wide variety of applications. In the transport sector, hydrogen can become a further technology option, alongside BEVs, for shaping sustainable individual mobility in the long term. However, this will depend on competitive production of sufficient quantities of hydrogen from green power, as well as expansion of the corresponding filling infrastructure, which is already being intensively pursued in many countries”.

Juergen Guldner, head of BMW Group hydrogen fuel cell technology and vehicle projects, said: “With its high-performance fuel cell and optimized power battery, the BMW iX5 Hydrogen’s drive system is unique in the world. With this, we are forging new paths for sustainable driving pleasure.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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