Hydrogen may have taken a clear back seat to pure battery-powered electrification in the green automotive segment, but a handful of automakers continue investing time and money to develop and refine hydrogen fuel cells like the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT you see above that's currently on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It's based on the X5 crossover, and it features technology jointly developed with Toyota, which BMW has been working with since 2013.
BMW says there's "no single solution that covers the complete spectrum of customers’ mobility needs worldwide," adding that hydrogen-fueled vehicles are "an important alternative and addition to battery-electric drive systems." As such, the German automaker plans to have its next generation of hydrogen fuel cells on the road by 2022. The small-scale production vehicle will be based on the X5, as previewed by the i Hydrogen NEXT concept.
While highlighting benefits such as a four-minute refueling time and long range that isn't negatively affected by severe hot and cold weather to the same degree as fully electric vehicles, BMW concedes that hydrogen refueling infrastructures don't yet exist in most parts of the world. That includes the United States, where few areas offer regular and easy access to hydrogen fueling stations, particularly outside of California.
Besides the fact that it's powered by electricity that's generated by a hydrogen fuel cell stack, there's little technical information available about the i Hydrogen NEXT. We're sure that information will filter out by the time 2025 rolls around, which is the earliest BMW expects it could have hydrogen-fueled vehicles in the hands of carefully selected customers.