The BMW Group plans to deploy a limited series of BMW vehicles powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell system produced at the carmaker’s Munich facility and paired with electric batteries for testing and demonstration around world by year’s end.
In combination, the fuel-cell system and an electric motor featuring fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology and a high-performance battery purpose, the iX5 Hydrogen powertrain delivers 275 kW/374 hp. The iX5 Hydrogen model already successfully demonstrated its everyday usability, even at very low temperatures, during a final round of winter testing in Sweden earlier this year, according to the carmaker.
“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.”
“We have managed to more than double the fuel cell’s continuous output in the second-generation fuel cell in the BMW iX5 Hydrogen, while weight and size have both decreased drastically,” added Frank Weber, board of management member, BMW AG, Development.
Hydrogen-powered combustion engines had already been in use prior to the arrival of the fuel cell system. BMW Group has been refining the fuel cell technology since 2015 with the 5 Series GT Hydrogen Cell.
Fuel-cell system technology offers features found with combustion engines, including charge air coolers, air filters, control units, and sensors. The BMW Group also developed special hydrogen components for its new fuel-cell system, including a high-speed compressor with turbine and high-voltage coolant pump.
The BMW Group sources the individual fuel cells required for manufacturing the BMW iX5 Hydrogen from the Toyota Motor Corporation. The two companies have been collaborating on fuel cell drive systems since 2013. Fuel cell systems are manufactured in two main steps. The individual fuel cells are first assembled into a fuel-cell stack. The next step involves fitting all the other components to produce a complete fuel-cell system.