BMW confirms it is developing alternative powertrain technologies, including a hydrogen fuel cell system.
Since 2013, the BMW Group has been working on the fuel cell technology with the Toyota Motor Corporation and will continue this collaboration. The company believes in the long-term potential of hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles.
According to Klaus Fröhlich, BMW AG’s Member of the Board of Management and R&D, the popular X family cars would be suitable candidates to accomodate a hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain.
Before to offer a car for sale, BMW will try the technology in a small series pilot project based on the current BMW X5. It is about the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, which the company plans to present in 2022.
How does it work?
The powertrain for the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT generates up to 125 kW (170 hp) of electric energy from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen from the ambient air. This means the vehicle emits only water vapor.
The electric converter under the fuel cell adapts the voltage level to that of both the electric powertrain and the peak power battery. The latter is fed by brake energy and the energy from the fuel cell.
To guarantee a long range, the vehicle also has two 700 bar tanks holding 6 kg of hydrogen. Refueling takes 3-4 minutes.
The fifth-generation eDrive unit is integrated into the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT as well. The peak power battery positioned above the electric motor injects extra dynamics, when overtaking or accelerating. The total system output is 275 kW (374 hp).
If the global situation is favorable, BMW will bring a customer offer powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology to market in the second half of this decade at the earliest.