BMW is showing an X5 variant at the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung in Frankfurt, which the company plans to bring to the market in small numbers by 2022. This variant will run entirely on hydrogen, for which the German manufacturer has been working with Toyota for a number of years.
The i Hydrogen Next presented in Frankfurt is in fact an existing X5 model of the last generation equipped by BMW with fuel cell technology. The manufacturer does not provide further details about the car, but in any case it is clear that BMW aims to release a limited number of these hydrogen SUVs by 2022. The company speaks of a ‘next generation fuel cell driving systems’.
With the i Hydrogen Next, BMW is already showing a glimpse of the cars that should appear in 2022, although the timing is still uncertain. The manufacturer says it will not be possible to offer fuel cell vehicles to consumers until 2025 at the earliest, but that timing also depends on “market requirements and overall conditions.”
This will undoubtedly include the supply of hydrogen filling stations, as there are still relatively few of them. BMW says the hydrogen delivery infrastructure is also only at an early stage of development in many countries. According to BMW, the decision to release hydrogen cars does not only depend on developments in China; this country has created subsidies to have about a million hydrogen cars on the road in the country by 2030. The German manufacturer tells Autocar that the decision also depends on what happens in this area in other key markets, such as those in Europe and the US.
Compared to a regular X5, the car shown only has some minor modifications visible, such as blue panels at the rear to cover the places where the exhausts of the petrol variants are normally located. Furthermore, there are some blue color accents on the body and the rims.
BMW has been working on hydrogen technology for some time now. Since 2013, the company has been working with Toyota on technology for hydrogen cars. For example, since 2015, the companies have been working on prototypes of 5-Series Gran Turismo cars equipped with Toyota fuel cells. BMW also made a hydrogen prototype of the i8, a hybrid sports car from BMW.