BMW working on hydrogen, but expects a battery-powered future

The company promises to build a handful of hydrogen prototype vehicles, using technology co-developed with Toyota.

BMW has confirmed plans to develop hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, but views such models as unlikely contenders against battery-powered alternatives.

Recent reports suggest the company may be working on a third i-Series model, potentially the i5, using a fuel-cell rather than batteries and an internal-combustion range extender.

"We've said we'll continue to invest in hydrogen and that will result in a small number of production test vehicles being made to prove technology works," BMW marketing head Ian Robertson told Autocar.

The company has been collaborating with Toyota to develop fuel-cell technology, with the aim of creating a shared powertrain by the end of the decade, however Robertson now suggests hydrogen's lingering limitations and advances in battery technology could prevent the German automaker from ever bringing a fuel-cell model to market.

"The real issues lie not around what we can do, though, but whether the infrastructure can be built up to supply hydrogen in the marketplace cost-effectively," he added.

The executive suggest new types of lithium batteries and eventually solid-state energy storage could be the big game changers in the next decade, helping to reduce charging times and eliminate range worries.

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