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
- Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have some distinct advantages over the current available production battery electric vehicles
- 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
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.
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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