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BMW iX5 Hydrogen: test drive with the hydrogen SUV

In the development of the iX5 Hydrogen with fuel cell, BMW still found 20 KW of power, now allows the first test drive of the SUV with 295 kW of system power and up to 710 Nm of torque.

The fuel cell is a bit like the Weber Max. You don't know it? Okay, then listen to the great Gerhard Polt's dissertation on a municipal council meeting. The central question: is he coming now, Weber Max, or is he not coming? In any case, the fuel cell has been ready for series production every five years for about 30 years. However, only Hyundai and Toyota have come up with halfway noteworthy numbers so far. BMW has been cooperating with the latter company on the subject of fuel cells and hydrogen since 2013, is now sending the test fleet of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen onto the road and wants to establish this form of drive by the end of this decade. A form of drive that gives even a spacious SUV like the X5 an extremely superior driving experience, which is mainly due to the considerable system torque of 650 Nm (in boost even 710).

In addition, a modified high-voltage battery during the project increased the system output by 20 to 295 kW, i.e. 401 hp, which is why the vehicle weight of 2,460 kg is reduced to its role as a mere number in the data sheet. For comparison: According to the manufacturer, an X5 xDrive 45e weighs 2,510 kg, an iX xDrive 50 weighs 2,585 - and that only with the help of generously used carbon. So you will experience one thing above all in the hydrogen fuel cell X5: An X5. A spacious SUV that tends to be comfortably tuned with the best all-round visibility. And in this case: With all the advantages of an electric drive, because the fuel cell generates electricity that feeds a 295 kW electric motor. And that in turn ensures immediate, powerful acceleration, if need be, even from zero to 100 km/h in less than six seconds – says BMW.

And you're out?

What BMW also says: They do not want to develop the fuel cell as a replacement for battery-electric drive trains to series production, but rather as the optimal choice for certain applications, for example in rather large vehicles. Incidentally, this does not necessarily have to be an SUV, the drive would already have room in a 5-series sedan. And a fuel cell drive would also fit into the so-called New Class, as development director Frank Weber incidentally notes. After all, the electric motor is already there anyway, so instead of the battery, the tanks and the fuel cell are added. But he also emphasizes that that New Class means "the most significant entrepreneurial effort in the history of BMW" - and here the focus is clearly on battery electrics., As of today, however, one must assume that not much will change in terms of cell chemistry in the next eight years, so that one will have to work with well-known technologies. The fuel cell can definitely be an alternative, as it requires around 20 times less raw materials than a BEV – simply because of the significantly smaller high-voltage battery, which has an energy content in the single-digit kWh range (BMW does not want to give more precise information). The battery has an output of 170 kW, the fuel cell 125 kW (continuous output). And with its six kilograms of hydrogen, the BMW iX5 Hydrogen should cover a distance of 500 kilometers according to WLTP and can be refueled in around four minutes. Only: The infrastructure is very manageable. There are currently around 100 gas stations in Germany, and there are larger gaps in the network abroad. In addition, the "green" hydrogen that has mainly existed in theory so far must also be available in practice, but here too sustainability is a problem with battery-electric drives. ,

A BMW X5 with rear-wheel drive

All this hardly bothers the iX5, it curves over land with rear-wheel drive and two-axle air suspension, allows the typical, albeit tolerable body movements in Comfort mode, tightens noticeably in Sport mode - and then pinches itself Exaggerated holding forces on the steering (actually a BMW bad habit), how nice. The rear axle including the electric motor comes from the iX, an all-wheel drive variant with a second electric motor at the front would also be possible without further changes to the drive train with Toyota components (the so-called fuel cell stack) manufactured in a BMW pilot plant. . BMW repeatedly emphasizes that they are only using a technology that is unavoidable in other industrial sectors, for example in the steel industry. And heavy goods traffic would also rely on it, although the truck manufacturers don't really seem to agree on that yet . ,

And when would a series application be conceivable, when the iX5 Hydrogen seems to have been developed almost completely? Possibly in the second half of the decade when the infrastructure has improved. Internally, however, BMW is already planning very specifically for the next generation of the X5 to offer the fuel cell as a regular drive variant. Wherever it is used, it should be able to be manufactured on the same line as all drives. Weber says that the electric drive started as a small test fleet, referring to the electric mini from 2010. "We just want to be prepared," affirms the development director. The BMW iX5 Hydrogen is it, drives up to 205 km/h fast, but only for a short time, but at least 185 km/h.Will drive technology spread just as quickly this time? Or will we ask ourselves the question again in five years: is he coming, Weber Max, or not? ,


Wouldn't it be nice to have an alternative to battery electric vehicles? For BMW, the fuel cell would be no more, but also no less. And to be able to enjoy the driving experience of a BEV without the often annoyingly long charging times - a wonderful feeling. With regard to sustainability, however, as with the BEV, there are still a few questions that need to be answered.


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