Increased number of manufacturers are eyeing Hydrogen as fuel for sustainable mobility, and BMW seems the latest to join the trend. They’ve began testing a near-standard vehicle with a hydrogen fuel cell drive train in everyday conditions on European roads. Based on the X5, prototypes of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT will examine how effectively the CO2-free drive train, model-specific chassis technology and vehicle electronics systems work together under real-life conditions.

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The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT is a pure electric vehicle that uses hydrogen as fuel by converting it into electricity in a fuel cell. Hydrogen fuel cell technology has the long-term potential to supplement internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrid systems and battery-electric vehicles as well. It could become an attractive alternative to battery-electric drive trains – especially for customers who do not have their own access to electric charging infrastructure or who frequently drive long distances.

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Like the fuel tank of a conventional combustion-engine model, the hydrogen tank of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT can also be filled within three to four minutes with a fuel that ensures a range of several hundred kilometres in all weather conditions. A central element of the road tests now underway is fine-tuning the software that controls all driving and operating functions. The fuel cell system, hydrogen tanks, performance buffer battery and central vehicle control unit have all previously been tested individually and together in hundreds of test runs conducted on test benches. The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT uses fuel cells from the product development cooperation with the Toyota Motor Corporation. The individual cells come from Toyota, while the fuel cell stack and complete drive system are original BMW Group developments.

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Energy is generated in the fuel cell as the result of a chemical reaction between the hydrogen carried by the vehicle and oxygen from the air. This 168bhp. An electric converter located below the fuel cell adjusts its voltage to that of the electric motor, which powers the SUV. Energy stored in a performance buffer battery is also used for dynamic acceleration manoeuvres and short bursts of speed for overtaking. As a result, the system delivers an output of 368bhp that corresponds exactly to that of the most powerful six-cylinder in-line petrol engine currently used in BMW models – thereby guaranteeing the driving dynamics the brand is known for.