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BMW has showcased its iHydrogen NEXT technology that is based on the current-gen X5 SUV and is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain developed with Toyota Motor Corporation
BMW has had a quite a long history of experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell technology. So for its next fuel cell electric vehicle, set to arrive in 2020, BMW have come up with a state-of-the-art powertrain using the current-gen X5 platform as a testbed. BMW, with this fuel cell technology, looks to attain mass-market appeal, although this is entirely dependent on the infrastructure that is needed for fuel cell vehicles, which is the hydrogen refuelling ecosystem.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the BMW iHydrogen NEXT platform, developed with a little help from Toyota. It uses a similar electric system that the iX3 had that makes around 369bhp, of which the fuel cell system alone generates approximately 168bhp and the only output emitted from this car is clean water vapour. After the fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen, a simple chemical reaction occurs between these two elements and the byproduct is electricity that is captured in batteries is in turn used to drive the electric motors and the only byproduct is water vapour hence this entire process is clean, provided the source of hydrogen is from a clean refinery.
You can see below the entire working of this new second-generation fuel cell technology.
It has a 6kg hydrogen tank that can be refilled in just under five minutes in a process quite similar to traditional petrol-powered cars. The hydrogen tanks are located on the floor of the vehicle and this shows the vehicle can have a long range and will not be much affected by external conditions
BMW Is looking to introduce this new X5-based hydrogen car as a pilot program in 2022. Toyota has assisted BMW in the fuel cell components of the car, as Toyota is currently one of the few manufacturers to have a production fuel-cell car on the market, with the Toyota Mirai.
Hopefully with BMW investing in hydrogen technology, we will see mass-market awareness about this new fuel cell and lead to more adoptions by other manufacturers.