The 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show hosted the world premiere of a BMW X5 with hydrogen fuel cells. The official product name was BMW i Hydrogen Next, a prototype visually aligned with the BMW X5 G05 and adorned with some design elements from the BMW iX3. At the time, BMW announced that a small volume production will arrive in 2022  awarded to selected customers by the BMW Group. Depending on the hydrogen conditions and the actual demand, BMW plans to offer a vehicle with a fuel cell for ordinary sale at the earliest in 2025.

Today, the Bavarian automaker publishes the first photos of a camouflaged prototype hitting the public roads for some testing trials. The prototypes are clearly marked with the words “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Test Vehicle” on the side. The fuel cell electric model boasts a 374 PS / 368 hp powertrain, just like the concept car presented at IAA Frankfurt in September 2019. Furthermore, the second generation of the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain architecture generates up to 125 kW / 170 PS (168 hp) of electric output from the chemical reaction between the hydrogen in the vehicles storage tanks and oxygen in the ambient air.

The hydrogen storage tanks are both weight- and space-optimized. They are located on the floor of the vehicle, below the passenger shuttle. The tanks are pressurized to 700 bar and, together, have a storage capacity of 6 kilograms of liquid hydrogen. This mass of fuel ensures a long vehicle range regardless of weather conditions. In the trial FCEV, the compact high-voltage, peak output battery is located above the electric motor and is designed to provide extra boost when overtaking and accelerating.

By 2030, BMW aims to offer a consistent lineup of hydrogen-powered electric models, if everything goes according to plan. In the long term, BMW fuel cell electric vehicles could become a hit if all the relevant shortcomings are practically addressed and consistently eliminated.

[Photos: BMW via BimmerToday]