Automotive

BMW hops on Toyota’s hydrogen bandwagon with fuel cell powertrain

BMW hops on Toyota’s hydrogen ...
BMW has unveiled a full hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, developed in conjunction with Toyota
BMW has unveiled a full hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, developed in conjunction with Toyota
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The i Hydrogen Next powertrain, developed by BMW in conjunction with Toyota
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The i Hydrogen Next powertrain, developed by BMW in conjunction with Toyota
A battery kicks in extra power above and beyond what the fuel cell contributes
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A battery kicks in extra power above and beyond what the fuel cell contributes
High-pressure tanks store 6 kg of compressed hydrogen
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High-pressure tanks store 6 kg of compressed hydrogen
Total system output will be 275 kW
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Total system output will be 275 kW
Ranges up to 750 km should be feasible
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Ranges up to 750 km should be feasible
BMW has unveiled a full hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, developed in conjunction with Toyota
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BMW has unveiled a full hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, developed in conjunction with Toyota
View gallery - 6 images

It appears clear at this stage that while most of the developed world is moving toward battery-electric vehicles, Japan and South Korea are pushing hard for hydrogen, which will allow them to import energy from around the world in a green delivery format, however, it might have to be created offshore.

The idea of an East Asian "hydrogen economy," which has gathered no small amount of political steam, has clearly got automakers that aren't called Toyota, Kia or Hyundai thinking about what the future of these markets will look like, and BMW has been working in partnership with Toyota to make sure it won't be left out in the cold if and when a hydrogen vehicle option becomes a must-have.

As BMW board member Klaus Fröhlich 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. 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."

With that in mind, the company presented a prototype and initial details for a fuel cell powertrain for its i Hydrogen Next concept car. Two 700-bar (10,150 psi) pressurized tanks offer a capacity of 6 kg (13.2 lb) of compressed hydrogen. That would give this car a range around 750 km (466 mi) if it manages to attain the same fuel efficiency as Toyota's Mirai. Filling up, of course, would only take marginally longer than it takes to pump gas.

Ranges up to 750 km should be feasible
Ranges up to 750 km should be feasible

This hydrogen is converted into electric power at a rate up to 125 kW (170 hp) by the fuel cell. That goes to the wheels as necessary, and there's a "peak power battery" ready to chime in with bonus power when you need it, giving a total system peak output of 275 kW (374 hp) and a rather sprightly little SUV.

Don't get too excited just yet. A press release states "it will be some time before the company offers its customers a production car powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology," even going so far as to put that point in bold. The infrastructure isn't in place yet to make this work, and BMW plans to continue pushing forward with BEVs and combustion cars in the short term.

A small pilot program scheduled for 2022 will see a limited number of fuel cell cars produced, based on the X5 SUV, and any kind of customer offering won't hit showrooms until, "the second half of the decade." Still, Toyota must be feeling very vindicated at this stage.

Fröhlich gives an overview of BMW's move in the video below.

BMW introduces hydrogen fuel cell powertrain in conjunction with Toyota

Source: BMW

View gallery - 6 images
12 comments
ChairmanLMAO
Ya another system just for millionaires and scientists. Sigh.
yawood
YES!!! Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology is the way to go. An electric car without any range anxiety because you can just fill it again like a petrol car. I know because I have been running my dedicated Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) vehicle for the last 11 years since I bought it new in 2009. Filling up with hydrogen will be exactly the same as me filling up with LPG. In fact, in Australia most fuel stations serve LPG so the infrastructure is there anyway. Just change the tanks and the LPG pump serves hydrogen instead.
martinwinlow
Yawn!! (Stop flogging that dead horse, FCOL!!)
FB36
IMHO, car companies, those want to make hydrogen fuel vehicles, really should start w/ doing a whole set of collision safety tests, when the gas tank is full of hydrogen (just like collisions in real world happen w/ full (not empty!) gas tanks)!
dugnology
This is like running towards the finish line after the race is over. By the time this technology matures, batteries would be cheaper and more power dense. If it takes 5 minutes to refill vs 15 mins, in the end the consumer will adapt. I have a Tesla model 3 mid range. I can drive for almost 3 hrs before I have to juice up. The time to recharge is about 1/2 hr. In that time I take a restroom break and grab a snack. This will only get much better as the next generation chargers reduce that to 1/4 hr . At that time, changing to a hydrogen is really expensive and no where near as efficient. One way I can see fuel cell is in large trucks or trains where a built in reformer can use a fuel like methane or methanol which already has a infrastructure.
DaveWesely
I don't get why Japan and S. Korea are so into FCV. It's not like they have an abundance of natural gas to make hydrogen. Neither country has large sparsely populated areas with long distances between "fueling" stations. BEVs are a much better fit. Fuel cells should be used as a load leveling energy storage system for the grid, not in vehicles. It is also indicative of the automaker's mind set when the FCV prototype looks like a muscle car, but the BEV prototypes look like dorky econo cars.
guzmanchinky
Ten thousand PSI? Holy wow, that's a lot of pressure, and a flammable substance as well? Someone will have to convince me that a rupture of any kind at those pressures won't result in some kind of massive damage or explosion.
WB
where can I short BMW....wow so ignorant. I get it they can't produce the batteries needed without billions into battery factories so they try to grasp every straw to somehow paint vehicles as stustinable meanwhile they are nothing but speed bump anymore in the way of Tesla. Seriously where can I find the longest term put's against BMW. Already made a killing with Tesla.. now time to do the same again with BMW.
T N Args
Notice how the longitudinal H2 tank puts a hump in the car's cabin right where BMW owners expect to see one, and Toyota owners expect to see a nice flat floor.
michael_dowling
This thing refuses to die! Saw a video of a FCEV filling up at one of the handful of H2 refilling stations. The driver paid ~ $80 for a tank. How much for a battery refill? 5 or 6 bucks? My favorite graphic that sums it up nicely: https://insideevs.com/news/332584/efficiency-compared-battery-electric-73-hydrogen-22-ice-13/