The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT Electric Vehicle

BMW i hydrogen next fuel cell electric car

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BMW Is Prudent To Diversify Its Risk By Introducing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Technology To Its Zero-Emission Electrification Ambitions  

  • BMW has given us a glimpse of its vision for future mobility at the IAA Cars 2019 (Frankfurt), with the unveiling of the new BMW i Hydrogen Next fuel cell development vehicle.  It is the first of BMW’s  partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation in regards to hydrogen fuel-cell technology
  • This is part of the broader commitment by BMW towards zero-emission driving.  The Munich based automotive manufacturer views fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) as an important ‘alternative and addition’ to battery electric vehicles (BEVs)
  • The i Hydrogen Next will be part of the broader electrification strategy of the company which includes the launch of 25 electric vehicles by 2025
  • The hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle is excepted to be based on the current BMW X5 SUV, though with a distinctive ‘i model’ representation . The company expects to manufacture a limited series of the hydrogen fuel SUV in 2022
  • FCEVs have longer ranges than pure electric cars and faster refueling times than battery recharging times.  An FCEV is filled like a conventional petrol or diesel car and can be filled under four minutes.  However, the number of available public refuelling stations is very limited, and certainly far fewer than electric vehicle public charging points  
  • BMW’s commitment to hydrogen fuelled vehicles is far beyond just one FCEV model.  The BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation jointly launched the ‘Hydrogen Council’, a global initiative to promote ‘a hydrogen-fuelled energy revolution’ 
  • Prices yet to be confirmed but expected to start from  £55,000
BMW i Hydrogen NEXT electric vehicle
BMW i Hydrogen NEXT FCEV (credit: BMW)

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Both, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are vying for leadership and dominance of the fast developing zero-emission road transportation industry.  Both types of technologies have their respective challenges and potential.  

BMW i Hydrogen NEXT FCEV
BMW i Hydrogen NEXT FCEV (credit: BMW)

It is too early in the development of these technologies to suggest which one would eventually dominate.  As of today, battery electric vehicles have certainly taken the lead, but overtime, if battery costs and performance do not shift ‘materially’, it could handicap the leadership of BEVs.  

In the case of FCEVs, the technology needs to ‘catch up’ with introducing significantly more FCEV zero-emission production models and improving refuelling infrastructure significantly.  There are currently only three available FCEV models in the U.K. These include, the Hyundai NEXO Fuel Cell, Toyota Mirai and the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.  Moreover, there are only 16 hydrogen fuelling stations. Bottom-line, FCEVs are still significantly behind BEVs. At the current rate of investment in FCEV development by automotive manufacturers, it is hard to envision its success in the medium term.

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Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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