BMW continues to look at alternative powertrain technologies. Did you know that the BMW Group is teaming up with the Toyota Motor Corporation as part of a successful partnership that dates back to 2013?
The two manufacturers have joined forces to work on fuel cell powertrain systems and scalable, modular components for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles under a product development cooperation agreement.
Fuel cells from the cooperation with Toyota will be deployed in the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, alongside a fuel cell stack and overall system developed by the BMW Group.
As well as partnering on the development and industrialization of fuel cell technology for the mass market, the two companies are also founding members of the Hydrogen Council. A wealth of other leading companies in the energy, transport and industrial sectors have joined the Hydrogen Council since 2017, swelling its ranks to over 80 members.
According to Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Research and Development, the hydrogen fuel cell technology could quite feasibly become the fourth pillar of our powertrain portfolio in the long term. The upper-end models in the extremely popular X family would make particularly suitable candidates here.
Not for the immediate future…
A customer offer powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology will be brought to market at the earliest in the second half of this decade. There are many good reasons for this cautious but realistic approach. “In our view, hydrogen as energy carrier must first be produced in sufficient quantities at a competitive price, using green electricity. Hydrogen will then be used primarily in applications that
cannot be directly electrified, such as long-distance heavy duty transport,” said Klaus Fröhlich. The requisite infrastructure, such as an extensive, Europe-wide network of hydrogen filling stations, is also lacking at present.
Initial technical details of the powertrain for the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT.
“The fuel cell system for the powertrain for the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT generates up to 125 kW (170 hp) of electric energy from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen from the ambient air,” explains Jürgen Guldner, Vice President of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology and Vehicle Projects at the BMW Group.
This means the vehicle emits nothing but water vapour. The electric converter located underneath the fuel cell adapts the voltage level to that of both the electric powertrain and the peak power battery, which is fed by brake energy as well as the energy from the fuel cell.
The vehicle also accommodates a pair of 700 bar tanks that can together hold six kilograms of hydrogen. “This guarantees a long range regardless of the weather conditions,” notes Guldner. “And refuelling only takes three to four minutes.”
The fifth-generation eDrive unit set to make its debut in the BMW iX3 is also fully integrated into the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT.
The peak power battery positioned above the electric motor injects an extra dose of dynamics when overtaking or accelerating. The total system output of 275 kW (374 hp) fuels the typical driving dynamics for which BMW is renowned. This hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain will be piloted in a small series based on the current BMW X5 that the BMW Group plans to present in 2022.
We just let you look at the photos here, giving you a detailed look into the hydrogen future…
Hans Knol ten Bensel