Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-10 10:00
The i Hydrogen NEXT prototype previews the German brand’s plans for hydrogen-electric propulsion from 2022
This is the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT prototype. Launched at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, it acts as a precursor to the German brand’s forthcoming hydrogen fuel cell-powered X5, which is due to be unveiled in 2022. BMW plans to offer the technology to consumers in 2025, depending on market conditions and infrastructure support.
The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT shares its body-in-white with the current-generation X5, albeit with a handful of cosmetic alterations to mark it as one of the company’s eco models. There’s a unique blue-tinted radiator grille, a set of lightweight alloy wheels and a revised rear diffuser with blanked-off exhaust outlets and blue trim.
BMW says hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles offer the same zero-emissions benefits as pure-electric cars, while side-stepping the issue of range anxiety. Other claimed advantages over traditional EVs include refuelling times of “under four minutes,” suitability for towing and no compromises on comfort.
The German brand also says its hydrogen electric powertrain has very little dependence on climatic conditions. As such, customers get the same range, regardless of the ambient temperature – unlike traditional battery electric vehicles, whose usable range generally decreases in colder conditions.
BMW jointly developed the i Hydrogen NEXT prototype’s hydrogen electric powertrain with Toyota. The pair have worked collaboratively on the project since 2013, with a small fleet of hydrogen-powered BMW 5 Series GT prototypes entering development in 2015. The two companies also signed a product development agreement in 2016, with the aim of producing scalable modular components and fuel cell drive systems for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
What do you make of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT prototype? Let us know in the comments section below…