Unlike other automakers, BMW isn’t shying away from hydrogen vehicles

Unlike other automakers, BMW isn’t shying away from hydrogen vehicles

February 1, 2024 3 By Tami Hood

BMW is ditching EVs and backing hydrogen engines.

Many believe that passenger hydrogen vehicles face too many challenges to ever reach the widespread adoption that electric cars have achieved, but BMW is not among them. The German automaker hasn’t given up on hydrogen-powered cars and believes that in the long term, hydrogen engines will prove vital in various parts of the world.

Hydrogen engines – a potential game changer.

Why? Those like BMW who support the development of this technology believe that hydrogen cars align well with what will likely be the top priorities of the next transportation era. These priorities include quick refueling, fast performance and zero emissions.

Though hydrogen fuel cell vehicles share similarities with electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles have certain advantages that present day EVs lack. The top two benefits are fast refueling and a long driving range that remains consistent, no matter the temperature.

Key advantages aside, because BMW is in the minority of automakers who want to develop hydrogen technology for passenger vehicles, there are presently many challenges (e.g. cost of producing hydrogen and lack of infrastructure) standing in the way of passenger hydrogen vehicles gaining extensive traction in the auto industry.

BMW iX5 Hydrogen Vehicles to hit dealerships in 2024.

In spite of the challenges, this hasn’t stopped BMW from moving forward with its hydrogen vehicles plans. In fact, the company is reportedly set to introduce its H2 SUV, the BMW iX5 Hydrogen, as well as two other hydrogen vehicles at its dealerships this year.

hydrogen vehicles - Launch of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen pilot fleet - Image Source - BMW Group YouTube

BMW iX5 Hydrogen vehicle driving on road – Image Source – BMW Group YouTube

The BMW iX5 hyrogen SUV concept uses fifth-generation fuel cell technology and BMW eDrive electric motor propulsion and has 400+ horsepower. The vehicle’s approximate range is 313 miles and can hit a top speed of 115 mph, 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. The iX5 Hydrogen is comparable to top electric cars like Tesla Model Y.

A long road ahead.

hydrogen news ebookStill, as enthusiastic as BMW is about hydrogen engines’ significance in the long term, the current reality is that this technology has barely taken off in terms of passenger cars across the globe. In fact, sales of these vehicles have dipped in countries where the vehicles are most prevalent, including Japan and South Korea.

Even in the United States, there are only about 15,000 hydrogen cars on roads, and they’re all in California. This is a tiny number compared to the 2.5 million electric vehicles on the nation’s roads.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens when BMW introduces its BMW iX5 Hydrogen and two other hydrogen vehicles this year. After all, while EVs may have the upper hand now, there’s always room for more eco-friendly vehicles and no clean fuel is a one-size fits all solution.

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