The BMW Group is relentless in its pursuit of hydrogen fuel cell technology as a viable alternative for sustainable individual mobility.

BMW will launch the BMW iX5 Hydrogen at the IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich, two years after debuting the BMW I Hydrogen NEXT concept car. The Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) with hydrogen fuel cell drive train is now in serial development and will be one of several vehicles visitors can experience as they go down the Blue Lane connecting the major exhibition grounds to other exhibition locations in the city center.

From the end of next year, a small number of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen, which is based on the BMW X5, will be utilized for demonstration and testing purposes. Its hydrogen fuel cell system demonstrates the BMW Group’s leadership in the development of electric motor systems.

“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.”

Hydrogen fuel cell technology has the potential to become another pillar in the BMW Group’s drive train offering for local CO2-free mobility under the correct conditions. BMW I which is totally dedicated to zero-emission transportation on a local level, may eventually provide vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells in addition to battery-electric models such as the BMW i3, BMW iX3, BMW iX, and BMW i4. As long as the hydrogen is generated using renewable energy and the necessary infrastructure is available, this technology can complement the BMW Group’s electrified drive train portfolio – and, in particular, meet the needs of customers who lack access to electric charging infrastructure, frequently drive long distances, or desire a high degree of flexibility.

The BMW iX5 Hydrogen is a cutting-edge premium Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) that blends cutting-edge driving technology with the powerful proportions, convenience, and versatility of a BMW X model. Individual exterior and interior design elements emphasize the car’s association with the BMW I brand and its unique drive technology. BMW I Blue is used to accent the inner edge of the BMW kidney grille, the inlays in the 22-inch aerodynamic wheels, and the attachments on the outer portion of the rear apron. Additionally, the entrance sills and instrument panel cover trim include a “hydrogen fuel cell” emblem.

The mesh inserts that cover the cooling air intakes on the front of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen, as well as the rear apron and its diffuser element, are likewise distinctive. The ornamental grilles that cover the BMW kidney grille, the lower and two outer air inlets, and the body elements for the lower rear end trim are all manufactured at the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Campus, which utilizes 3D printing to create prototype and standard parts. Additive manufacturing enables the rapid and extremely flexible creation of components, many of which have geometric features that are impossible to achieve with conventional manufacturing methods.

The BMW iX5 Hydrogen’s sporty wheels are fitted with sustainably sourced natural rubber and rayon tyres. The raw materials for this product are sourced in accordance with the independent Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) guidelines. The BMW Group is the world’s first automaker to employ Pirelli tyres manufactured entirely of certified natural rubber and rayon from wood in its production vehicles.

The BMW iX5 Hydrogen blends hydrogen fuel cell technology with the BMW eDrive fifth generation. The propulsion system burns hydrogen as fuel and converts it to power in a fuel cell, producing up to 125 kW/170 hp with just water vapour emissions. Additionally, its drive power helps it to sustain a constant high speed over a longer distance. The electric motor was built using BMW eDrive technology from the fifth generation, which is also used in the BMW iX. It acts as a generator during the coasting overrun and braking phases, supplying energy to a power battery. Additionally, the energy saved in this power bank is used to fuel extremely sporty driving maneuvers, resulting in a system output of 275 kW/374 hp and ensuring the brand’s unique driving experience.

The hydrogen required to power the fuel cell is kept in two 700-bar carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) tanks with a combined capacity of about six kilos.

“Filling up the hydrogen tanks only takes three to four minutes – so there are no limits on using the BMW iX5 Hydrogen for long distances, with just a few, short stops in-between,” explains Guldner.

According to an IEA analysis, hydrogen has significant potential as a future energy source in relation with global energy transition initiatives. Hydrogen may be employed in a wide variety of applications due to its storage and transport characteristics. As a result, the majority of developed countries have adopted hydrogen plans and backed them up with roadmaps and specific initiatives. In the transportation sector, hydrogen has the potential to become an additional technology alternative, alongside battery-electric mobility, for long-term shaping sustainable individual travel. This, however, will require competitive production of sufficient hydrogen from renewable energy sources, as well as growth of the related filling infrastructure, which is already being pushed vigorously in a number of nations.

The BMW Group encourages and supports efforts aimed at promoting innovation in Germany and Europe that contribute to the development of a hydrogen economy and the acceleration of green hydrogen generation. These include, in particular, large-scale hydrogen projects designated as Significant Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI). The projects that make up this European Union initiative, which is being backed in Germany by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Transport, span the entire value chain, from hydrogen production through transportation to industrial applications.

Nedim Husomanovic

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