BMW i Hydrogen Next adds FCEV powertrain to X5
Launch timing has been pushed to 2025 "at the earliest."
BMW has unveiled the i Hydrogen Next, previewing the promised hydrogen-powered X5 production SUV.
The German automaker says it is working under the assumption that various forms of alternative drive systems will exist alongside one another, not just pure battery-powered EVs and plug-in hybrids. The company is consequently hedging its electrification bet by maintaining development efforts for hydrogen fuel-cell technology.
No technical details have been announced for the X5 FCEV, which has been only slightly modified visually to better mesh with BMW's other 'i'-series vehicles.
As automakers focus on EVs, hydrogen's chances of making a big impact in the automotive industry are becoming increasingly remote. All current FCEV production models have struggled to sell more than a few hundred units in the US market, where California is the only state with more than a few refueling stations. Many of the sites are regularly offline for maintenance or other issues. Energy companies appear to be reluctant to spend millions on new stations, further discouraging car buyers from considering hydrogen.
BMW says it will build a limited number of X5-based FCEVs starting in 2022 but will not start series production until 2025 at the earliest. The timing suggests BMW is also reluctant to make a final commitment, leaving a few years to kill the project if buyer interest does not increase.