Car Reviews

BMW’s Hydrogen X5 Promises 374 HP and Blissful Silence

Just as BMW is expanding its hybrid offerings and finally fielding battery-electric vehicles, it hasn’t forgotten about one other alternative fuel: The automaker plans to present the prototype for the next hydrogen-electric vehicle in 2022, producing it “in a small series” ahead of a wider mass-market offering in the second half of the decade.

If BMW doing a hydrogen fuel-cell car seems like it’s coming out of left field, especially now, the reality is the Munich-based automaker has been working on hydrogen tech for more than four decades. Most recently BMW showed the X5-based i Hydrogen Next concept last fall. The prototype version BMW is showing in 2022 is also X5-based, and earlier this week BMW shared a number of technical details about this upcoming powertrain.

The prototypes will essentially be EVs with two 700-bar (more than 10,000 psi) hydrogen tanks; combining the hydrogen from the tanks with oxygen will generate electricity, which will in turn power X5’s 170-hp EV drivetrain. One hydrogen fuel tank is positioned under the rear seat while the other is in the transmission tunnel. The SUV also features a small battery designed to provide extra power, located in the rear just above the electric motor, with the drivetrain providing 374-hp peak combined output.

“The electric converter located underneath the fuel cell adapts the voltage level to that of both the electric powertrain and the peak power battery, which is fed by brake energy as well as the energy from the fuel cell,” BMW notes.

Hydrogen fill-ups will take three or four minutes—one advantage that BMW believes hydrogen holds over battery-electric vehicles at the moment. There is, of course, the issue of finding a hydrogen fuel station, but this hasn’t stopped other automakers from offering hydrogen cars in certain parts of the U.S.

“Although the BMW Group has no doubt as to the long-term potential of fuel-cell powertrain systems, it will be some time before the company offers its customers a production car powered by hydrogen fuel-cell technology,” the automaker said. “This is primarily due to the fact that the right framework conditions are not yet in place.”

The right framework conditions will not likely be in place in 2022 when BMW plans to produce a small run of prototypes, and it remains to be seen whether something will be in place in the second half of the decade. Toyota offers hydrogen fuel-cell cars to the public, and BMW is actively working with Toyota in developing this tech.

On a related note, have you noticed that both Toyota and BMW have been notable BEV holdouts until very recently, focusing instead on hybrid technology while also spending time on said hydrogen tech as side projects?

Having few hydrogen stations is amplified by the high cost of transport to these stations compared to the ease of getting electricity to EV stations. Indeed, it was difficult to picture any kind of mass adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles even before the positively retro gasoline prices we are seeing arrived to remind everyone of the 1990s.

BMW is realistic about which alternative energy will result in more sales in the new decade, having revealed plans to field a battery-electric 7-Series earlier this week.

Plan for EV stations to be easier to find than hydrogen fuel stations for some time.

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Car Reviews

BMW Reveals Its Position In Plug-In EV Market Over Past 12 Months

Comparison of plug-in car sales from BMW’s perspective through February 2020.

BMW Group (BMW and MINI brands) today released a new set of global electromobility charts, showing its performance on the plug-in electric car market over the past 12 months (since March 2019 to February 2020), using IHS Markit New Registration data.

* As usual, the purpose of the presentation is to show the brand’s position being higher than the industry average, but let’s check what else we can learn from the new set of infographics.

Electromobility In Germany. Share In New Registrations By Brand.

In Germany, the BMW brand is still the plug-in car leader – but its share decreased from 21% to 18% (compared to two months ago). That’s because several other brands are selling a lot more plug-ins this year than in 2019.

Volkswagen (11%) and Mercedes-Benz (10%) both improved their position, completing the (all-German) podium.

Electromobility In Europe. Share In New Registrations By Brand.

In Europe (most of Europe, to be precise), BMW is still the second most popular plug-in brand with a 13% share (down from 14%). The top brand is Tesla (18%) – down two points, while in third is Renault (9%), up from 8%.

Electromobility Globally. Share In New Registrations By Brand.

Globally, BMW’s share remains at 7% (3rd best), while Tesla (#1) is at 20%! BYD shrunk by 2 points from 10% to 8%.

BMW i3 Share In The Compact EV Segment Globally

BMW i3’s share in the compact BEV segment went down from 17% to 15%. Renault ZOE (22%) is the most popular model, followed by the Nissan LEAF (20%).

Electromobility By Country. Share In The EV Segment. BMW Versus Market-Average.

Plug-in electric car share for the whole of the BMW Group is significantly higher than the industry average in many markets (no change here compared to previous months).

Electromobility By Country. Share In New Registrations. BMW EV* Versus BMW ICE.

BMW Group share in the plug-in segment in particular markets is also higher than the company’s share in the gas/diesel segments, which means that the switch to electric brings a general gain of market share for the group (no change here compared to previous months).

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Car Reviews

BMW 3 Series, X3, X4 to get mild hybrid tech this year

BMW has announced that it will next introduce mild hybrid technology to the 3 Series, X3 and X4 from spring 2020 in order to meet the European Union’s CO2 targets. With the carmaker’s Efficient Dynamics initiative, fleet consumption and CO2 emissions have been cut by more than 40% over the last 13 years; the company will reduce emissions by 20% this year compared to 2019.

The exact models to get the mild hybrid system include the 320d in sedan and wagon body styles, as well as the X3 and X4 in xDrive20d specification. These will join exiting BMW models that already carry the system like the 5 Series sedan and wagon in 520d guise, as well as the X5 and X6 in xDrive40d specification.

BMW’s mild hybrid system on the X5 and X6 uses a 48-volt electrical architecture along with a starter generator, the latter providing an additional output of 11 PS (11 hp or 8 kW) to provide a momentary power boost as well as refining the operation of the engine idling start-stop function.

During instances of deceleration to a standstill, the combustion engine can be disconnected from the transmission at speeds of less than 15 km/h, with energy recuperation taking place to recharge the battery. The mild hybrid system also promotes an improved coasting function, where the disconnect can occur at speeds of up to 160 km/h; this function is present in both Comfort and Eco-Pro drive modes.

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Auto News

Found for Auction: 1974 BMW 3.0 CSL in Rare Taiga Metallic Green Is 1-of-4 Ever Made

What makes a car quintessentially “Batmobile-esque?” Some say it’s a dark gray Lamborghini Murcielago immortalized as Bruce Wayne’s “stealthy” form of transport in The Dark Knight, or a long, black, front-engined ride from the Burton era. Others swear that nothing comes close to the black and red 1966 Ford Thunderbird from the original TV series. But what about a bright green 1970s BMW homologation special? 

That’s exactly what this 1974 BMW 3.0 CSL “Batmobile” is that’s currently up for bidding on Bring a Trailer, and it’s an icon in its own way.

BMW created the 3.0 CSL out of a need to qualify the popular 3.0 CS for the European Touring Car Championship, producing 1,265 lightweight variants of the CS (the “L” in CSL standing for “leicht” or “light”). The car featured a massive 440-pound weight reduction courtesy of a new unibody built from thinner metal, a mixture of steel and aluminum body panels, and plexiglass side windows. Its most iconic feature, however, was the new aerodynamic package comprised of a large front air dam, front fender fins, and a huge rear wing with a supplementary roof spoiler. This enhanced aero is what earned the 3.0 CSL its “Batmobile” nickname and a spot on nearly every child’s wall.

This example is one of 57 Series 2 CSLs produced, and one of just four finished in Taiga Metallic green. The Series 2 introduced fuel injection and a marginally larger 3.03-liter engine than its predecessor, but this car is powered by a rebuilt 3.2-liter inline-six that pairs nicely with the original Getrag four-speed manual transmission. It also comes with 14-inch Alpina wheels and black Scheel sports seats. (Check out those checkered green carpets!)

It was restored in 2015, which consisted of a bare-metal repaint in its factory color and repairing the usual ’70s-era rust. Since then, the car has competed in numerous classic car shows, taking home first place at the 2015 Legends of the Autobahn during Monterey Car Week and third in its class at the 2019 San Marino Motor Classic. 

With a top bid of $120,000 at the time of writing, this Batmobile is looking for another affluent playboy-turned-vigilante to scoop it up.

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Car Reviews

Which Used EV Is The Best: BMW i3, Nissan LEAF Or Renault Zoe?

The guys from Lovecars try to make a verdict but they miss important aspects.

You already know that depreciation is a significant issue for EV owners, especially the ones that buy a brand new EV. But that could be good for people that do not want to spend much on an electric car since they can get a used one. That was what Tiff Needell and Paul Woodman, from the Lovecars YouTube channel, had in mind when they evaluated three used EVs: BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, and Renault ZOE.

Ironically, they have invited Peter Greaves, also known as Petrol_Ped, to drive the EVs around. Their main concern with the vehicles, which are all three years old, was to see how they were holding up in terms of range and how cheap these vehicles were compared to new ones.

If that is an indication of a bargain, you would better remember that “there’s no free lunch.” To be more specific, if an EV was expensive and is now dirt cheap, there is something wrong with it.

The AAA study that pointed to the fact that EVs have a depreciation problem included no Tesla among the evaluated vehicles. They were the Chevrolet Bolt (LT), Hyundai Ionic Electric (Base), Kia Soul EV (+), Nissan Leaf (SV), and Volkswagen e-Golf (SE).  The Renault ZOE was not included because it is not sold in the US, but the i3 is.

It would be fascinating to have had it considered in that research, but we already know it loses value fast in the US: it is the fourth among the ten cars that lost more value in the US in 2019 after five years, according to 

That probably happens because the i3 is a small car for US standards. Kyle Conner, from the Out Of Spec Motoring and InsideEVs YouTube channels, has already presented it as a good option. It is the only among these three to have a liquid-cooled battery pack, and that is more important for used EVs than it may seem: they last longer that way – and do not charge you $35,000 on a battery pack replacement.

The video below shows the advantage of liquid-cooling and, more specifically, of tab cooling instead of surface cooling. The BMW i3 has tab cooling, according to this Avid Technology article.

These are aspects of the ownership of these EVs that the video does not address. The Nissan Leaf and the Renault ZOE have air-cooled battery packs. Nissan has a history of charging way more than it should for new battery packs. Renault used to rent ZOE’s, so we do not have an idea of how much it will cost to replace them when it is time. BMW allows you to replace only the battery pack module that is defective, which implies it will be cheaper to do that when the batteries start to fail.

The video does not mention that, but the BMW i3 seems to be the logical choice when it comes to used EVs, some of them already out of their total warranty periods. We hope Lovecars explores these questions in more depth in their future videos on EVs unless they relate to dynamic aspects. In that sense, Tiff Needell will certainly give anyone a valuable lesson, as he usually does in his videos at tracks.

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Car Reviews

BMW Will Launch Fuel Cell Electric X5 SUV In 2022

There may also be X6 and X7 FCV variants too.

BMW has announced plans to launch a fuel cell electric version of its current X5 in 2022. It won’t be mass produced, though, and the plan is to offer a small series of vehicles to test the technology and the market.

The X5 FCV was previewed by the i Next Hydrogen Concept which was shown at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show. However, it may not be the only large BMW SUV to feature the powertrain; according to Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Research and Development,

‘The hydrogen fuel cell technology could quite feasibly become the fourth pillar of our powertrain portfolio in the long term. The upper-end models in our extremely popular X family would make particularly suitable candidates here.’

He he does point out that they

‘Are convinced that various alternative powertrain systems will exist alongside one another in future, as there is no single solution that addresses the full spectrum of customers’ mobility requirements worldwide.’

And added that in BMW’s view,

‘Hydrogen as energy carrier must first be produced in sufficient quantities at a competitive price using green electricity. Hydrogen will then be used primarily in applications that cannot be directly electrified, such as long-distance heavy duty transport.’

What this basically means is BMW is clearly not abandoning the development of fuel cell propulsion. The powertrain that will be used in the X5 FCV will generate 170 horsepower from the chemical reaction (between hydrogen and oxygen from surrounding air) alone, but thanks to extra stored electricity, peak power will rise to 374 horsepower under hard acceleration.

Gallery: BMW i Hydrogen NEXT concept at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show

27 Photos

The SUV will carry a pair of tanks pressurized to 700 bar which will hold up to 6 kilograms of hydrogen. BMW doesn’t say how much range the X5 FCV will have, but it will be a ‘a long range regardless of the weather conditions.’ This is an obvious allusion to the fact that battery electric vehicles’ range varies greatly depending on the weather in general and outside temperature in particular.

It is also worth noting that BMW is developing these fuel cell electric powertrains alongside Toyota, the result of a partnership that was started in 2013. BMW is one of the few automakers whose view is that fuel cell technology definitely has a future and it says FCVs could become as cheap as internal combustion engined vehicles by 2025.

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Auto News

Foolproof: BMW’s iDrive Infotainment Controller

As technology advances further in our vehicles, automakers are trying to produce the best-working, best-looking ways to control it all. Some have stumbled and recovered—Cadillac’s Cue and Ford’s Sync, for instance. Some have changed the game (Ram, Volvo) and some have had it right for 20 years. That’s BMW and its iDrive, hands down the best way to control an infotainment system.

Sure, the first versions in the early 2000s were a clunky, inelegant and far from intuitive. There’s no substitute for today’s version. Automakers: Please don’t give us another touchpad, ever.

iDrive was created in 2001 and first appeared on the BMW 7-Series. For those unfamiliar, it used and still uses one big jog dial in the center console, rotating through all the infotainment screen’s options. Older versions only spun. New ones lean left, right, up and down like a joystick, and they can be pressed like a button or drawn on with your finger when spelling out a navigation location. Add “back” and “home” buttons and with one hand—without taking your eyes off the road—you can swap songs, flip between navigation and audio, dial a telephone, scroll through settings, adjust the climate control system and more. In one compound word, it’s foolproof.

BMW introduced new versions in 2003, 2008 and 2012. That 2012 edition got extensive hardware and software upgrades making it faster, smarter and easier to use. It was also the first to feature a touchpad on top of the roll dial (I give the touchpad a pass only if it’s a redundant control).

Finally, in 2016 BMW revamped the system in a major way, changing the operational logic and the menu structure. It now offers redundant touchscreen controls, as well as normal buttons for common items and programmable ones for your favorite radio station or navigation route. Voice control has been an option for a long time, but BMW now allows drivers to use gesture control, as well. We’re not completely sold on that yet—twist your hand for volume, swipe tiles left and right—but maybe with a little more practice it will be better.

The reason the roll dial is so good is because of the tactility. Even if there are 50 clickable options on the screen, you can roll the dial fast, and each stop comes with a satisfying click. With different toolbars on the screen’s edges, you can lean the dial to get into other options and modes entirely (navigation, radio, settings, etc.). Push down to select whatever your highlighted function is. It works great with Apple CarPlay, too. Click to skip a song or go 30 seconds ahead in a podcast. Some functions are disabled while driving for safety.

Other makers have similar versions: Audi’s MMI and Cadillac’s new system, for example. But I still think BMW’s is the way to go. The company even fancied up the dial recently, making it with a glass topper. Talk about tactile, you want to keep your hand on it all the time. But you shouldn’t; you should keep them on the wheel … where there are even more redundant controls.

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Car Reviews

BMW is developing ‘shape-shifting’ steering wheels

Steering wheels that change shape are most effective in autonomous driving and emergency situations. BMW has plans to develop the technology.

BMW is working on new technology that will see steering wheels change shape before our very eyes.

Patents filed by the German brand show a wheel that can change from a traditional circular shape to an oval shape using separate rim parts that can pivot in relation to each other. According to fan site this could be used to provide more space for the driver when a car is in autonomous mode, although Auto Express understands that added safety is the primary reason BMW is developing the technology.

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BMW has history when it comes to innovative steering wheels. It’s Vision iNext concept, unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show, featured a squared-off steering wheel designed to allow drivers to easily switch between autonomous and active driving modes. BMW claimed that its unusual shape would make it easier for the driver to recognise the car’s steering angle.

That steering wheel is expected to make it onto next year’s iNext production car – which could wear an iX5 badge. BMW has already said that the iNEXT’s steering wheel will be fitted with optical fibres to let the driver know when autonomous driving modes are available for use, and warn of situations where the driver is required to retake control of the vehicle.

However, the new patents reveal that BMW plans to take steering wheel technology a step further, and its invention has the backing of car safety researchers.

In 2017 researchers at Stanford University conducted tests using a test rig featuring a robotic steering wheel that could change shape. Their tests showed that drivers asked to take control of an autonomously-driven vehicle in an emergency situation reacted quicker to a steering wheel that mechanically changes its shape than a steering wheel that uses flashing LED lights to alert the driver.

The conclusion of the Stanford study was: “Drivers who experienced the robotic steering wheel performed significantly better than those who experienced the LED steering wheel. The results of this study suggest that alerts utilising mechanical movements are more effective than purely visual warnings.”

The shape-shifting steering wheel is unlikely to make it onto 2021’s iNext model, but could only be a few years away from production.

Do you like the idea of a car steering wheel that alters its shape? Let us know in the comments…

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Car Reviews

2021 BMW 3 Series Gets Plug-In Hybrid With Increased EV Range

Competes with: Gas-only BMW 3 Series, Volvo S60 T8, low gas prices

Looks like: The current-generation 3-Series, now with a plug on the driver-side front fender

Powertrain: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor and battery producing a total system output of 288 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque with XtraBoost; eight-speed automatic transmission; rear- (330e) or all-wheel drive (330e xDrive) 

Hits dealerships: May 2020

BMW adds  a new plug-in hybrid 330e and 330e xDrive to its portfolio of electrified cars, offering up to an estimated 22 miles of all-electric driving in the 330e; the 330e xDrive with all-wheel drive is estimated at 20 miles. The previous 330e was capable of only 14 miles of electric-only driving, so this is a slight improvement. Efficiency is a maximum estimated 75 mpg-e rating, up from 71 (both the electric range and mpg-e estimates for the 2021 model are BMW’s, not the EPA’s). Pricing starts at $45,545 for the rear-wheel-drive 330e; add $2,000 for AWD, making it $3,800 more expensive than a gas-only 2020 330i. Pricing includes a $995 destination fee.

Related: Genesis G70 Vs. BMW 3 Series Video: Luxury Sports Sedan Smackdown

Buyers can receive recommendations from the selling dealer for a local provider to install at-home charging, and BMW has also teamed with Amazon to help customers research and schedule professional installation of home charging units.


There’s not a lot different about the 330e’s looks compared to a gas-only 330i. The badging will say 330e, and there’s a plug door on the driver-side front fender. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, and there are multiple sets of optional 19-inch wheels available. Even BMW’s M Sport Package is available on this PHEV, adding the same sporty exterior touches like an aero kit and darkened trim.


The interior also remains largely unchanged. Wood trim is standard, and aluminum trim is optional. A heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats are also optional. The gauge cluster is a 5.7-inch digital display and the multimedia screen is 8.8 inches with standard Apple CarPlay and the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment software. Android Auto is not yet available, but owners of Samsung Galaxy smartphones running the Android 8.0 operating system or later can use their phone as a digital key (if their cellphone carrier supports this feature).

Power and 0-60 MPH

The 330e and 330e xDrive both use the same combination of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine, electric motor and battery producing a total system output of 288 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque, which breaks down as follows:

  • Gas engine: 181 hp, 258 pounds-feet
  • Electric motor: 107 hp, 77 pounds-feet

The 330e also offers a feature BMW calls XtraBoost, which is only available in Sport mode and can provide an immediate increase of 40 hp when the accelerator pedal is depressed enough to cause the transmission to kick down. When operating on electric power only in Hybrid mode, the 330e can move at speeds up to 68 mph and when in fully electric mode, the 330e can travel at speeds up to 87 mph, increases of 19 and 12 mph, respectively.

The only other plug-in hybrid compact luxury sedan available in the U.S. currently is the Volvo S60, which comes in a “regular” T8 plug-in hybrid variant and a performance-oriented Polestar Engineered version. In the T8 total system output is 400 hp, 495 pounds-feet of torque and 22 miles of electric-only range. The Polestar Engineered S60 gains an extra 15 hp, but loses one pound-foot of torque. Both are also much more expensive than the 330e, with the T8 starting at over $57,000 and the Polestar Engineered at over $66,000.

The 330e’s lithium-ion battery’s capacity is listed at 12 kilowatt-hours gross, which is the maximum capacity, but according to BMW spokesperson Oleg Satanovsky BMW also lists the usable capacity (net rating), which is 9.09 kwh, because batteries aren’t charged to their fullest capacity for longevity purposes.      

The only transmission is an eight-speed automatic. The 330e is rear-wheel drive while the 330e xDrive is all-wheel drive. BMW estimates a 0-60-mph time of 5.6 seconds for the 330e and 5.7 for the 330e xDrive. Electric-only range for either version is limited — 22 miles for the 330e and 20 for the 330e xDrive, according to BMW’s estimates — and the expected mpg-e figures are 75 for the 330e and 67 for the 330e xDrive.

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Standard safety features include:

  • Automatic forward collision detection with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Lane departure warning 

Optional packages can add:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blind spot warning and collision avoidance
  • Adaptive LED headlights  
  • Head-up display

BMW anticipates the 330e plug-in hybrid will go on sale in May 2020, though *gesturing vaguely at the state of the world* that may change.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Car Reviews

3,300 BMW X3, X4, 3 Series, 8 Series: Recall Alert

Vehicles Affected: Approximately 3,300 model-year 2020 BMW X3, X3 M, X4 and X4 M SUVs; 3 Series sedans; and 8 Series coupes and convertibles

The Problem: The sensors in the front seat belt buckles may inaccurately detect a belted occupant as unbelted, possibly causing the airbag and seat belt pretensioners to deploy improperly in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury to the driver and front passenger.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the front seat belt buckles, as necessary, for free.

What Owners Should Do: BMW will begin notifying owners May 11. BMW owners can call the automaker at 800-525-7417, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit its website to check their vehicle identification number and learn more.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Service & Repair to find your local dealer. Click here to schedule a free recall repair at your local dealership.

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  • More Recall News’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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