It’s a known fact BMW is developing the Neue Klasse platform with hydrogen capabilities in mind as the German luxury brand has pledged to have a fuel-cell car on sale before the end of the decade. Speaking with Autoblog, the automaker’s General Program Manager for Hydrogen Technology suggested a NE-based hydrogen production model could happen at some point in the distant future.
Jürgen Guldner admitted BMW is engineering the new architecture to accommodate a hydrogen fuel cell, but the technology won’t be ready in 2025 when NE is set to premiere. In addition, he went on to say that if it’ll be green-lighted for production, this setup will be used in a larger car. As a refresher, the all-new underpinnings will premiere with a sedan and a crossover in the popular 3 Series segment.
Guldner explains BMW is looking for ways to replace the large hydrogen tanks of the iX5 with smaller ones positioned next to each other where you’d normally find the battery pack of an electric vehicle. He mentioned the rest of the technology, primarily the motor, is ready for this type of application. However, a final decision has yet to be taken, “but the possibility is there.”
It should be mentioned the iX5 uses fuel cells from Toyota, but the fuel cell stack and software layer are all BMW. The zero-emission SUV boasts two carbon fiber hydrogen tanks that can store up to six kilograms of compressed hydrogen, with one of the tanks mounted where the transmission tunnel is on a regular X5. The other is below the rear bench and the two tanks form a T-shape.
BMW has made progress with the powertrain since unveiling the first iX5 prototype as the latest development has 401 horsepower compared to the original 370-hp output. Acceleration performance has been improved, with the sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) now taking less than six seconds or more than a second less than before.
BMW is deploying a fleet of fewer than 100 iX5 prototypes for demonstration and trial purposes, with a handful coming to the United States before the end of the year.