Much like the electric twins of other cars in its line up (i4, i3, iX3, i7) BMW will soon start fielding a zero emissions version of the X5 as well called…*drumroll*.…the iX5. That bit news might come as no surprise, but the twist is that buyers will get a choice of fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell.
Yes, the Munich automaker is still keen on the FCEV as a prospective long term solution to a post-combustion vehicle landscape, sharing a boat with longtime hydrogen proponents Honda, Hyundai, but especially Toyota.
Coincidentally, the iX5’s hydrogen fuel cell powertrain will be using plenty of tech from the Japanese automotive giant (mainly the fuel cells themselves) paired with its in-house BMW eDrive innards. This marks the restarting of a longtime collaboration between the two companies which started in 2013 but had since gone quiet.
The iX5 Hydrogen, based on the 4th-generation (G05) X5, seems unbothered with hiding its exterior or interior details, remains further out from a launch date as pre-production, on-road testing is only scheduled for later this year, putting an on-sale window sometime around midway through 2023 at the earliest.
Between there and then, BMW will produce a batch of 100 vehicles for a real-world assessment programme for use by drivers that will test them in their everyday situations and conditions in the United States, Japan, Europe, China, and South Korea prior to a full market debut.
The Toyota/BMW hydrogen powertrain will be capable of a total system output of around 380PS, though this is also aided by a 172PS electric motor. There’s no word yet on the car’s predicted range for each full tank of pressurised hydrogen, but Germans say its efficiency is “vastly improved” following years of research and development.
Two carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) tanks will store the 6 kilograms of hydrogen, which will only take about 3 to 4 minutes to refill from a station and pump very similar in appearance to one that dispenses petrol or diesel.
In its newest second-generation guise, the Toyota Mirai’s endurance is stated to be up to some 650km (based on the US EPA testing) before needing a refill, though one managed to drive a shocking 1,360km - a new world record. Given the iX5 Hydrogen will be fitted with similar tech, it’s natural to assume a similar range will be possible. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that the BMW will be larger and more powerful.
“With its high-performance fuel cell and optimised power battery, the BMW iX5 Hydrogen’s drive system is unique in the world,” said Juergen Guldner, head of BMW Group Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology and Vehicle Projects. “With this, we are forging new paths for sustainable driving pleasure.”
“As a versatile energy source, hydrogen has a key role to play on the road to climate neutrality. And it will also gain substantially in importance as far as personal mobility is concerned. We think hydrogen-powered vehicles are ideally placed technologically to fit alongside battery-electric vehicles and complete the electric mobility picture,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
“By commencing small-scale production of fuel cells today, we are demonstrating the technical maturity of this type of drive system and underscoring its potential for the future,” he added.
Now it's time to see if Toyota will share its eco-friendly and still zero-emissions hydrogen combustion engine tech with the Germans if BMW asks nicely enough. You know, for the M cars.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.