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BMW: iX5 Hydrogen to get small production run Hero Front

BMW: iX5 Hydrogen to get small production run

BMW unveiled its i Hydrogen NEXT concept car in 2019. Two years on, the German carmaker will present the BMW iX5 Hydrogen at the IAA Mobility 2021 show in Munich next month.

BMW says a handful of iX5 Hydrogen cars will be used for demonstration and testing purposes from the end of next year. The brand is aiming to sell hydrogen-powered cars to customers from 2025 but this depends on the car’s continuing development and whether there’s enough infrastructure to make a hydrogen fuel-cell car viable.

The brand is eyeing up hydrogen as an alternative to electric power as it offers similar characteristics to petrol and diesel fuel. Refuelling takes just a few minutes, hydrogen cars are suitable for towing, and they aren’t influenced by climate and weather as much as electric cars. As part of BMW’s plan to move to clean-fuel cars, you can expect a range of electric and plug-in hybrid models alongside a hydrogen-powered vehicle.

Essentially a pre-production version of its first hydrogen car, the iX5 Hydrogen will be heavily based on the carmaker’s existing X5 SUV. In conjunction with Toyota, BMW has been developing hydrogen fuel-cell technology as an alternative to battery-powered cars since 2013.

The fuel-cell system will produce 168bhp, with the whole powertrain producing 369bhp. The fifth-generation eDrive unit from the upcoming BMW iX3 will be fitted. BMW says the 6kg hydrogen tank can be refilled in “three to four minutes”, with a long range regardless of weather conditions.

The drive system uses hydrogen as fuel by converting it into electricity in a fuel cell – delivering an electrical output of up to 165bhp, with water vapour as the only tailpipe emission.

The BMW iX5 Hydrogen is designed to combine the zero-emission qualities of the brand’s ‘i’ range with the versatility of the BMW X model range and features unique styling to differentiate it from non-hydrogen BMW models.

The iX5 Hydrogen looks very similar to the BMW X5 SUV, with a few touches to mark it out as an alternatively fuelled vehicle. There are blue highlights in the signature kidney grille, rear apron and in the lightweight 22-inch alloy wheels, and the rear diffuser has blanked out panels where the exhausts would be in a petrol or diesel car.

The iX5 Hydrogen will also ride on sustainably produced tyres, making BMW the first manufacturer to use Pirelli tyres made exclusively from certified natural rubber and the wood-based material rayon for its production vehicles.

The only hydrogen cars currently available (the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo) manage 0-62mph in around nine seconds but we expect the i Hydrogen NEXT to become the quickest hydrogen car available.

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By Wayne Gorrett

Wayne has been covering developments in the UK's automotive sector for over 10 years, providing news, reviews, first-drive impressions and opinion pieces for a number of print and web outlets in the UK and South Africa. A former marketing director, Wayne is based in a rural village near Winchester, Hampshire. You can follow him on Twitter: @WaynesWorldAuto Facebook: WaynesWorldAuto Instagram: WaynesWorldAuto