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Hydrogen-Powered BMWs Co-Developed With Toyota Are Coming in 2025
BMW’s most recognizable model – the X5 SUV (or SAV, if you speak the brand’s language) – is set to become the mass-produced iX5 Hydrogen. That’s, of course, true only if BMW decides to go ahead and keep the prototype’s name. They might make some changes over the next three years, but one thing’s for sure – the appetite for fuel cell vehicles (FCEV) is just starting in Europe. BMW’s pulling the trigger on another powertrain.

Hydrogen-Powered BMWs Co-Developed With Toyota Are Coming in 2025

BMW iX5 Hydrogen Winter TestingBMW iX5 Hydrogen Winter TestingBMW iX5 Hydrogen Winter TestingBMW iX5 Hydrogen Winter TestingBMW iX5 Hydrogen Winter Testing
Hydrogen’s very hot right now in Germany. Major automakers got together and pressured the government into making sure they will have enough “green” hydrogen within their borders, be it produced or imported.

The main issue with hydrogen is that it requires massive amounts of power to make it. It can’t be done without electricity and splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen isn’t something that can be done easily and with no carbon footprint when we’re looking at a whole industry. That’s why scientists were pressured into finding a solution. Their bet – “green hydrogen.” Essentially, it’s the same process, but it’s done with renewable electricity.

Mercedes-Benz, for example, spearheaded this whole effort lately. They closed deals in 2021 with major gas suppliers like Shell or BP (British Petroleum) and managed to convince German authorities that hydrogen is another route that might help with the transition to zero-emission cars, trucks, and semis. And the automaker is close to making this happen by establishing a dedicated path in Germany for semi-trailers that carry freight using only hydrogen as fuel.

Considering the Stuttgart-based manufacturer entered this field 20 years ago, we should trust that the Germans have the solution. All they need is some serious support from other parties, including customers.

But there’s a problem. Put briefly, creating the fuel cell technology is still expensive. Hydrogen must be properly stored in a pressurized tank, and it must go through a catalyst where it starts the production of electricity needed to create the power that’s used to move a vehicle. However, nothing’s impossible. Tesla proved it.The Bavarians are in it
But BMW couldn’t just sit this one out. They started their tests and investments. The company may not be manufacturing any semis or vans, but it has a generous portfolio of premium vehicles. These cars, crossovers, SUVs, and other high-performance or incredibly luxurious models (like what Rolls-Royce is making) can’t be all-electric. After all, BMW is the company that introduced “The power of choice” concept.

Currently, customers from various markets can choose whatever type of powertrain they want for their preferred vehicle. The X3, for example, is available as a gas- or diesel-powered crossover, plug-in hybrid, fully electric, or in its most dynamic form – the X3 M Competition. You can even decide if all-wheel drive is something you need to pay for. That’s how far they went with giving customers options.

After the transition from fossil fuels is completed, BMW’s customers will still want to buy things they like. Generally, well-off customers like to choose and not be cornered into something. The company knew it had to do something about this.

Back in March, we were telling you that BMW finished winter testing the iX5 Hydrogen. The zero-emission vehicle with a body carried over from the good-looking X5 M was stripped down of any camouflage and sent to battle cold and snow. The automaker promised that it will manufacture a limited series to prove FCEVs are worth more than a shot after testing revealed good data.Ready or not, it’s coming
BMW wants big players from the oil industry, governments, investors, and other auto companies to understand that they too should be a part of this guilt-free alternative to EVs that still use mined rare earths.

That’s why we now have the first official confirmation that hydrogen-powered BMW's will become mass produced starting from 2025, and the iX5 Hydrogen might be among them. BMW’s Head of Sales Pieter Nota told Nikkei the automaker will, alongside Toyota, introduce multiple FCEVs.

“(…) hydrogen fuel cell technology is particularly relevant for larger SUVs," Nota said.

Cars using hydrogen aren’t something groundbreaking. Toyota, BMW’s partner in making the iX5 Hydrogen a reality, was heavily invested in this sector back in 2010. But the rise of Tesla's battery-powered vehicles and other strategies changed the company’s plans.

The collaboration between the Germans and the Japanese has first been seen with the all-new Toyota Supra. Even though it surprised many, BMW was content with sharing some of its technology and parts to get the hydrogen expertise from Toyota – the carmaker that has the Mirai FCEV as a second-generation unit that’s sold in a couple of markets like the UK.

BMW’s iX5 Hydrogen will demonstrate that filling up doesn’t take more than three to five minutes, and traveling long distances will be possible without compromising the standards customers are used to.

The Bavarians will continue investing in updating their portfolio, and battery-electric vehicles remain an important side of the brand’s business. The hydrogen push, however, reveals that major European carmakers are actively trying to provide an alternative to the already popular EVs.

Finally, someone will have to foot the incoming bill. The public and private sectors must work together if the “green” hydrogen dream is to become reality. As is the case with EVs in some markets, the charging infrastructure for FCEVs is basically nonexistent. There’s a lot of work to be done ahead.

 
 
 
 
 

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