BMW is testing the new hydrogen-powered X5 on the road

Is there a future for hydrogen-powered cars?

Most brands have either ignored hydrogen technology or given up a long time ago but BMW is still committed to it and still practicing what they preach. A little over a year ago, the German brand unveiled the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, based on the 2021 X5, and now they're testing it on the road.

Built at the 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. The electric motor that powers it produces 374 hp and it is 'fuelled' by two 700-bar tanks that together hold six kilograms of hydrogen. The company made it clear that this is only a pilot programme and only a few production models will actually be built. At least for now.

As most of you know, BMW is headquartered in Bavaria, a semi autonomous region of Germany whose government strongly believes in hydrogen cars, which is part of the reason why the German auto maker seems determined to keep developing FCEVs. Hubert Aiwanger, Deputy Prime Minister of Bavaria, believes that "hydrogen technology will gain traction, and I am committed to making Bavaria a high-tech location for hydrogen technology".

FCEVs, just like petrol and diesel cars, only take a few minutes to fill up but the biggest problem, apart from the obvious fact that there aren't enough charging stations, is that using hydrogen as fuel is (still) comparatively inefficient because it has already lost more than half of its energy before it even gets to the car.

For reasons that I'm not sure I understand, most car enthusiasts seem to prefer hydrogen-powered EVs to battery-powered ones. I was fortunate enough to experience both and to be honest you can't really tell the difference, mostly because hydrogen cars are still powered by electric motors.

Where do you stand? Would you rather drive a hydrogen-powered car or a BEV?

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Comments (8)

  • The words BMW and Bavaria are going yo make a certain DT'er very happy

      1 month ago
    • Yesss you see, BMW keeps its promises

      Also I'm very surprised to see Hubert Aiwanger's name in a DT article, since even here most of the times the media cares about him it's only because of his funny dialect and not so much because of what he...

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        1 month ago
  • Cracking water requires a lot of electricity, if I remember, more electricity per mile than charging a battery electric vehicle. And, this is an EV. It uses a fuel cell to create electricity from hydrogen combustion.

    Vehicles that turn hydrogen combustion directly to kinetic energy, hydrogen internal combustion engines, are far less efficient than this, as well as far less efficient than battery electric vehicles.

    It’s still worth exploring. We need to keep adding renewable electricity generation capacity in all cases.

      1 month ago
    • They have been experimenting using green forms of creating hydrogen like using the sun's rays or wind energy to create enough energy.

        1 month ago
  • I did know about this a while ago as BMW and Toyota released a video when talking about their collaboration on hydrogen propulsion and production.

      1 month ago
  • Well done BMW for not blindly following the herd and thinking the world revolves around the EV..

      1 month ago
    • I keep thinking it's the manufacturers' job to open up a discussion about propulsion. Governments are clueless and shouldn't tell auto makers what to do, it should be the other way around. Even if we agreed that electric propulsion is the...

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        1 month ago
    • I watched one of Harry's Garage YouTube videos the other day when he was testing the Audi eTron and he did let slip that government forced agenda has been the cause as many car manufacturers don't want to throw away their combustion engine...

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        1 month ago
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