With a view to the coming years, everything indicates that there will be different types of propulsion systems and that the mobility of the future does not seem to have a single representative. One of the technologies that will have a significant weight is the hydrogen fuel cell, so manufacturers such as BMW already plan to introduce vehicles of this type.
His latest work in this field is represented in the BMW I Hydrogen NEXT which was presented last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show. An eco-friendly car powered by hydrogen, based on the BMW X5. The plans of the German firm are to introduce in the coming years the new generation of propulsion systems powered by this fuel. At the moment we are facing a prototype, although the German brand has already announced that its road tests have begun with the aim of launching a small series in 2022, in a movement prior to the final landing already in the second half of this decade, depending on of market conditions and requirements.
A total of 374 CV
BMW has confirmed the first technical details of this future BMW I Hydrogen NEXT, which will have a powertrain that will have a total power of 374 horsepower and that will equip a fuel cell system capable of generating 170 hp of electrical energy "from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the environment," explains Jürgen Guldner, vice president of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and technology at the BMW Group, which means that it will only emit water vapor as a result. For this, it has two 700-bar tanks capable of holding up to six kilos of hydrogen., which according to the brand will guarantee great autonomy and refueling of this fuel in just three or four minutes.
The prototype that we see in the images does not differ much aesthetically with respect to a BMW X5 powered by diesel or gasoline engines. To differentiate it from these, the brand has used a specific decoration with white and blue tones applied to both the front and the rear, in a nod to the house's 'i' family of models. The vinyl anticipates the type of technology that drives this prototype, with exclusive double-spoke wheels and a black painted diffuser in which we do not see exhaust outlets, of course.
"Hydrogen fuel cell technology can be an attractive option for sustainable drivetrains, especially in the larger vehicle classes. That is why road testing of vehicles with a fuel cell drivetrain of Hydrogen is an important milestone in our research and development efforts, "says Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
With the tests that have just started on European roads, BMW aims to examine how effectively the electric powertrain, the specific chassis set-up, and the vehicle's electronic systems work together in real day-to-day conditions. This test program helps the brand's engineers to validate the safety, comfort, efficiency, and reliability of all vehicle components, all without losing sight of “the characteristic driving pleasure of BMW models, even with free local mobility. emissions using pioneering hydrogen fuel cell technology ”.
Close collaboration with Toyota
It should be remembered that since 2013 both BMW and Toyota joined forces to jointly develop a propulsion system that uses hydrogen fuel cell technology. Two years later, in 2015, the German brand began testing a small fleet of 5 Series GT prototypes. All this experience and technology developed jointly with Toyota will be in this BMW I Hydrogen NEXT. The new individual cells resulting from the collaboration with the Japanese brand will be present in the model together with a fuel cell stack and a general system developed by BMW.
Since this collaboration began, both firms have signed important agreements with up to eleven energy, transport, and industry companies to launch a global initiative known as the Hydrogen Council. The goal is none other than to forge a united vision and advance the long-term ambition of a hydrogen-powered energy revolution. Currently, this association of different companies has grown to 60 members.
At the moment, BMW is aware that this is a long-term vision, which will start to hit the market with small quantities and in applications such as long-haul heavy haulage, which cannot so easily be transformed into battery electric vehicles. Although it should also go hand in hand with a greater commitment to infrastructures, such as a large European network of hydrogen service stations.