Hydrogen fuel-cell :
Hydrogen fuel-cell powertrains that can be refuelled in minutes could be a no-cost alternative to batteries across a range of BMW electric car models by 2035, as new compact hydrogen fuel tank technology allows the maker to cheaply package hydrogen storage in vehicle platforms designed for both energy sources.
While fuel cell electric cars (FCEVs) such as the Toyota Mirai have been around in limited production for several years, extremely scarce refuelling options and high prices have made them an expensive and impractical proposition for all but a handful of users. According to BMW’s hydrogen programme chief Juergen Guldner though, in volume production FCEVs are potentially cheaper and more sustainable to build than BEVs, as they use 90 per cent less battery material, yet will feature new design solutions allowing BEV and FCEV versions of the same model to share a single ‘skateboard’ style platform, as well as multiple drivetrain components.
The new storage technique, combined with the fact that FCEVs are much cheaper to recycle compared to BEVs, allows BMW the possibility of offering fuel cell power as an alternative for almost the same price.
The first BMW fuel-cell powered EV :-
The first BMW fuel-cell powered EV will be a variant of the iX electric SUV. The German carmaker is currently running a pilot production run of its iX5 Hydrogen prototype, with series production expected to start sometime before 2030.
Hydrogen advocates like to blithely assert that excess electricity from wind and solar will be used to power electrolyzers that split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and that could be true in the far distant future when renewable energy is so abundant that most of the world gets it electricity from renewables and much of it would simply go to waste or get curtailed, which is the same thing.
The fleet of under 100 vehicles will then be employed internationally for demonstration and trial purposes for various target groups. This active driving experience will therefore be the first chance for people not involved in the development process to gain a direct impression of what the BMW iX5 Hydrogen has to offer.
A distant dream :-
While BMW has revealed much information about the i Hydrogen Next concept, it defines a long timeline for the car to reach its showrooms. It plans to be ready with the vehicle by 2022 but considering it does not want to sell it to private customers, it will likely bring the vehicle to its dealerships earliest by 2025.
So even though its focus is on battery electric vehicles, having a Hydrogen-run car in its portfolio will help the company build a wider presence in the future of personal mobility. As Klaus Froehlich, head of R&D at BMW puts it, “We 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.” He concludes, “The hydrogen fuel cell technology could quite feasibly become the fourth pillar of our powertrain portfolio in the long term.”