At a roundtable meeting hosted by BMW in NYC today, Peter Nota, a board member responsible for sales and marketing, spoke at length about the company’s continued involvement in the fuel cell hydrogen drivetrain. Note the BMW iX5 hydrogen prototypes that are set to launch in the market in 2023.
BMW iX5 Hydrogen
Although the iX5 Hydrogen will not be mass-produced, at least initially, a fleet of vehicles will be made available to selected customers, media and VIPs. There is no word on how many BMW iX FCEV units will hit the road next year. The idea behind fuel cell hydrogen development remains the same: to offer consumers a choice of emission-free vehicles.
While most advanced markets are able to handle the arrival of battery-powered electric vehicles, not every consumer and market will be fully prepared to accept. This is where FCEV BMWs come in First previewed on the BMW X5, the technology could be used on other larger BMW models.
With a refill time of 3 to 5 minutes, the BMW iX5 can serve as a great option for customers looking to drive an emission-free car without having to worry about the hydrogen charging infrastructure. Of course, hydrogen drives have their own challenges, one of which is infrastructure.
Second FCEV for BMW
This is BMW’s second attempt at a fuel cell electric car. The first was launched in 2015 in a 5 Series Gran Turismo prototype, part of another collaboration with Toyota. We had the opportunity to run that FCEV prototype at Mirams, BMW’s testing facility in southern France. And recently the BMW iX5 hydrogen in northern Sweden.
Also built in collaboration with Toyota, the iX5 FCEV saves BMW’s fuel cell program, as Bavarians believe that hydrogen could be a very effective technology for long-distance vehicles in the future. Nota further noted that commercial fuel cell vehicles could be a major factor in the overall adoption of FCEVs.
There are not many traditional automakers left in place of fuel cell electric vehicles. Most of them will soon be moving to fully battery-powered electric vehicles, but BMW and Toyota still believe that hydrogen will be part of the future of our mobility. Their bet is that fuel cell piles will become smaller and more efficient in the future, as well as shopping from the heavy truck industry. The latter could be the main driver behind FCEV adoption which requires a solid, but expensive infrastructure in its place. While companies like Amazon or PepsiCo tend to lean towards light battery-electric trucks, long distances are not ideal for battery-electric trucks. This is a use where FCEVs can shine and level the playing field.