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BMW Nears Decision on Hydrogen FCEV Production

Two hydrogen fuel-cell BMW X5 prototypes have arrived in Australia as part of BMW’s global testing program. This marks a significant step as the company nears a decision on whether to proceed with hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

Photo from Carsales

The BMW iX5 Hydrogen SUVs are among nearly 100 prototypes being tested worldwide. They will remain in Australia until the end of 2024 when BMW is expected to make a production decision. Dr. Juergen Guldner, head of BMW’s hydrogen program, indicated that a production decision could come by the decade’s end.

The iX5 Hydrogen generates 295kW, has a top speed of 180km/h, and offers a range of 504km. It refuels quickly, similar to conventional cars, but the infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling remains sparse. However, compared to battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), FCEVs can refuel in minutes and perform consistently in extreme temperatures.

BMW aims to make hydrogen vehicles cost-competitive with BEVs. Guldner expressed confidence that the costs will eventually come down to a commercially viable level, making FCEVs a practical alternative. The company sees a strong future for FCEVs, contingent on growing refuelling infrastructure and market reception.

The decision to use the X5 platform for these prototypes is strategic. BMW can test the hydrogen technology without compromising the vehicle’s interior space. Guldner mentioned that the first production FCEV could come from higher-end models like the X7 or 5 Series sedans, helping to spread the cost of development across more expensive vehicles.

While BMW continues to explore FCEV technology, its widespread adoption will depend on developing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Currently, the infrastructure is limited, particularly in Australia, posing a challenge to the widespread adoption of FCEVs. Despite these challenges, BMW remains optimistic about the potential of hydrogen as a clean and efficient fuel source for the future.

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