374 hp Hydrogen-powered BMW X5 is coming next year
Do hydrogen cars have a future?
BMW is one of the few brands that still believe in fuel cell technology and next year they're going to unveil the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, based on the 2021 X5 and built at BMW's Lightweight Construction and Technology Centre (LuTZ) in Landshut, Germany. The i Hydrogen NEXT looks just like a regular X5, except for the grille, the rear bumper, the blue wheels and the dedicated livery.
Bavaria, a semi autonomous region of Germany, has big plans for hydrogen cars, as confirmed by Hubert Aiwanger, Deputy Prime Minister, who believes that "hydrogen technology will gain traction, and I am committed to making Bavaria a high-tech location for hydrogen technology".
"This is a constructive way of responding to the climate debate," Aiwanger said. "The focus now is on building a hydrogen infrastructure at the national and international level, from production to application".
The new SUV produces 374 hp and is 'powered' by two 700-bar tanks that together hold six kilograms of hydrogen. BMW is only going to build a few models, which are mostly going to be used to showcase hydrogen technology in what they openly refer to as a "pilot programme".
The German car maker said that they need to see "significant improvements" to the infrastructure before they can actually put it into production. Furthermore, while it is true that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles only take minutes to "fill up", producing and storing hydrogen to be used as fuel is expensive and still inefficient, which is another big problem with FCEVs.
The FCEV v BEV debate has been going on for years but while several governments are doing whatever they can to push manufacturers to build battery-powered electric vehicles, they've largely been ignoring hydrogen technology and that's probably the reason why, as things stand, there are only three FCEVs available in (some) markets: the Hyundai Nexo, the Honda Clarity and the Toyora Mirai. Hopefully BMW will soon join the list.