According to BMW AG board member Frank Weber, hydrogen fuel technology is an attractive option for sustainable drivetrains, especially in “larger vehicle classes,” which is why this prototype is an X5 and not something more compact.
The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT uses fuel cells developed by Toyota, while the fuel cell stack and the drive system are made by the German brand. The electrical output being generated is 168 hp (170 ps), while energy stored in a performance buffer battery can be used for short bursts. As a result, you end up with a max output of 369 hp (374 ps), which happens to correspond to what you get with BMW’s most powerful inline-six gasoline engine.
Meanwhile, the hydrogen that supplies the fuel cell is stored in two 700-bar tanks made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The tanks hold a total of six kg (13.2 lbs) of hydrogen and the precisely controlled reaction with oxygen in the fuel cell is what generates the electricity – the drivetrain ultimately emits just water vapor.
Another thing the carmaker will be testing out is the software that controls all the driving and operating functions, which is why the i Hydrogen NEXT will be driven for thousands of miles in real traffic situations before production can be green-lit.