BMW iX5 Hydrogen Revealed Ahead of IAA Debut
Days ahead of the IAA Mobility in Munich, BMW has unveiled the iX5 Hydrogen, which is set to enter small series production in 2022. Based on the X5 Sports Activity Vehicle, as BMW prefers to call it, the iX5 Hydrogen will pair a fifth-generation BMW eDrive with fuel cell technology, nominally serving up 168 hp, but will be able to dial that up to 369 hp when prompted. Promising fill-up times of three to four minutes, the iX5 stores just over 13 pounds of hydrogen in two carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) tanks.
The iX5 will feature a few distinguishing details to set itself apart from its gas-engined twins, including blue details on the aerodynamic 22-inch wheels and on the inner edging of the kidney grille, as well as on the rear apron. The automaker also sculpted the mesh inserts covering the cooling air openings, as well as the rear diffuser. The iX5 will also wear tires made from natural rubber and rayon by Pirelli, which were extracted under the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) organization.
“With its high-performance fuel cell and optimized power battery, the BMW iX5 Hydrogen’s drive system is unique in the world,” said Juergen Guldner, head of BMW Group Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology and Vehicle Projects. “With this, we are forging new paths for sustainable driving pleasure.”
Of course, given the fact that the iX5 will see small series production intended for “for demonstration and testing purposes,” this is not expected to be a model available to those lucky buyers who have a hydrogen station nearby. This effort won’t even reach the level of the Toyota Mirai, which is something that buyers in some California dealerships could have put in their driveways. BMW has been an early adopter of hydrogen technology, but even the iX5 will remain an ultra-niche item.
BMW is not giving up on hydrogen’s potential, but voices plenty of caveats.
“With the right conditions, hydrogen fuel cell technology has the potential to become a further pillar in the BMW Group’s drivetrain portfolio for local CO2-free mobility,” the automaker says. “The BMW i brand, which is entirely geared towards locally emission-free mobility, could in the future also offer vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell drivetrains, in addition to battery-electric models such as the BMW i3, BMW iX3, BMW iX, and BMW i4.”
Those right conditions are still expected to be far over the horizon, with Honda having dropped the Clarity hydrogen fuel cell sedan just in June of this year. Unlike the iX5, the Clarity was actually offered to private owners, with Honda keeping the innovative sedan in production longer than the Clarity EV, a decision that’s likely to be debated for some time. So Munich will still face plenty of headwinds in trying to make hydrogen happen even on a limited level.
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