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.