Against German industry: BMW begins production of its hydrogen fuel cell

With the Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz executing a strategy designed entirely around battery electric cars, which BMW has started production of its hydrogen fuel cell it is, de facto, confirmation that the Munich-based manufacturer is going against German industry in terms of the kinds of technology that will take place on the market in the not-too-distant future.

The German brand, however, will not fully produce the fuel cell systems that will take place in its BMW iX5 Hydrogen, which will be the first model that the firm will manufacture to feature this propulsion technology. To do this, BMW has teamed up with Toyota, which is the manufacturer in charge of producing the fuel cell. Let us remember that Toyota, together with Hyundai, are the only manufacturers that currently have fuel cell-powered cars for sale.

Thus, BMW will be responsible for the manufacture of components surrounding the hydrogen cell such as compressors, filters or the cooling system, while the system will be fully assembled at the brand’s plant in Bavaria.

BMW iX5 Hydrogen
The BMW iX5 Hydrogen will be the brand’s first model to feature this technology.

For now, the brand will start working with a very low production volume. And it is that BMW knows that this technology still has a long way to go before starring in relevant numbers in the commercial field. The German brand plans to produce around a hundred units of its BMW iX5 Hydrogen before the end of the yearand instead of dealing with units intended for clients, it will be its different internal divisions that will first receive them (concessions, marketing and press departments, etc.).

Although currently the market share of this type of vehicle is barely testimonial (only a handful of units are registered per year in each market they arrive at), BMW estimates that they will lead a volume of between 20 and 30% of the market sharemainly serving customers who live in rural environments and who do not have fast charging infrastructure immediately, or those who need vehicles to travel long distances on a regular basis.

“Hydrogen will become more relevant in individual mobility due to its advantages,” Oliver Zipse, CEO of BMW, commented yesterday at an opening ceremony of the production plant in Munich, attended by Automotive News Europe. “Hydrogen-powered cars are the ideal technology for us as a complement to pure battery electric cars.” It is true, however, that hydrogen also poses challenges to the industry, including its transport to the pumps, since specific conditions must be maintained throughout its transport.

The iX5 Hydrogen has a hydrogen fuel cell
BMW iX5 Hydrogen.

Zipse also commented that as fuel cells increase in prominence, they will help reduce dependence on raw materials that are currently in full swing in prices due to the inequality that exists between supply and demand, mainly lithium and cobalt. , . The hydrogen-based system uses mainly aluminium, steel and platinum, metals that are easier to recycle.

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