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2023 BMW iX5 Prototype: Betting on Hydrogen

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2023 BMW iX5

By Dave Ashton

While every automaker is trying its best to turn to fully electric vehicles, BMW is trying a different approach with hydrogen. The ‘iX5 hydrogen-electric prototype’ aims to solve the main problems that come with electric vehicles. This hydrogen-based solution aims to solve the problems of range anxiety, working in low temperatures, having a smaller battery pack than an all-electric vehicle, and can be refuelled as quickly as an ICE engine. It’s still early days in the development process, but the results at this point but very promising.

One of the most exciting features of the 2023 BMW iX5 Prototype is its use of Hydrogen 7 technology. Hydrogen fuel cells have been around for a while, but they are now being incorporated into cars as a way to power them with zero emissions. The BMW iX5 uses hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power the electric motor.

The hydrogen fuel cells are housed in the stack housing, made of light metal, while the media end plate creates an air and watertight seal around the stack housing. This innovative technology is what gives the iX5 its impressive range and power, currently producing 401HP, with a 313-mile range, and hitting 0 to 60 mph in roughly 6 seconds. The other good news is that filling the vehicle full with roughly 13 lbs of hydrogen takes roughly only 4 minutes.

In 2013, BMW and Toyota announced a collaboration to work on developing fuel cell technology, with the motor coming from the iX. Toyota has been a leader in the world of hydrogen fuel cell technology for many years, and this partnership has allowed BMW to benefit from their expertise in this area.

Toyota has been working on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for several years, and its Mirai sedan is currently available for purchase in select markets. The Mirai is powered by a fuel cell stack that converts hydrogen into electricity, which is used to power the car’s electric motor. The car also has a small battery pack to store excess energy from the fuel cell and provide additional power when needed.

In a nutshell, hydrogen technology looks very promising, as long as all the bugs can be ironed out, and the hydrogen and electric side of things work equally well together. BMW predict that the technology will emerge fully in the late 2020s, but the real stumbling blocks are going to be the refuelling infrastructure and price point compared to the rest of the electric market.

Even if hydrogen vehicles were fully viable today and on sale, there simply aren’t enough refuelling points to make hydrogen vehicles an everyday proposition. This point alone could be the deciding factor in every hydrogen vehicle technology goes the distance. At least at this point, hydrogen vehicles offer the same luxuries and convenience we have with today’s ICE engines.

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