BMW remains one of the few companies in the automotive industry that still sees potential in hydrogen technology. The Bavarian automaker continues its development work on a fuel cell powertrain and it seems that a production model using that power unit is finally coming in the next few years. This is not just a prediction or an assumption but a confirmation that comes from BMW Group’s CEO.
Speaking during the recent launch of the Rolls-Royce Spectre – the first battery-powered production vehicle to come from West Sussex – Oliver Zipse was happy to discuss the future of hydrogen technology within the BMW Group. Zipse confirmed to TopGear that “a viable hydrogen car” will be launched from BMW later this decade and also added:
Gallery: BMW iX5 Hydrogen testing near the Arctic Circle
“We believe in hydrogen for many reasons. We believe that – and I’m speaking now from the BMW side but that ends up being for every brand in the Group – if you want to ride emissions-free and you do not have a charging station, this is the only possibility we have. In some areas to implement a hydrogen infrastructure is easier than an electric infrastructure, for example in areas where you don’t have any connection to a power grid. For hydrogen, you just need the tank.”
BMW could be considered one of the pioneering companies when it comes to hydrogen developments. The company’s first experiments with fuel cells date back to 1978 but it wasn't until 2000 that the first major effort appeared in the form of the E38 750hL. Today, the German firm prepares the launch of a hydrogen-powered version of the X5. Whether that’s the viable vehicle Zipse was talking about, we don’t know. However, we do know that it should go into serial production very soon.
A hydrogen BMW seems inevitable at this point – at least these are the signs we get from the automaker. But what about a Rolls-Royce with a fuel-cell powertrain? “I would never exclude anything,” Zipse told the British publication. If you ask us, a hydrogen Rolls doesn’t really sound possible at this point, but nothing can be excluded for the future.