The BMW iX5 Hydrogen, being built at a pilot plant in BMW Group’s Research and Innovation Centre in Munich, delivers 374 hp and more than 300 miles of range based on European test cycles. An onboard fuel cell system combines hydrogen with oxygen to generate electricity, which powers an electric motor.
The company’s fuel cell technology push comes as governments attempt to ban vehicles with combustion engines.
In countries “all around the world, combustion engines will be prohibited,” Hofmann said. “We cannot sell them, 2030s onwards.”
But the reality of hydrogen-powered cars cruising down the highway is far from assured.
Hofmann pointed to the “chicken-egg problem.”
“You need an infrastructure on the one side and product on the other side,” he said.
Hydrogen refueling infrastructure is minuscule, a significant impediment to the technology’s adoption. There are 48,148 electric-vehicle charging stations in the United States, according to November 2022 figures from the Energy Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. Meanwhile, there are just 54 public hydrogen fueling stations.
It is small wonder that the passenger-car market’s only two fuel cell models are not sales blockbusters.
In Japan, where Toyota launched the Mirai in 2014, the cumulative volume of fuel cell passenger cars numbers approximately 4,200 sold, according to an October 2022 report from consulting firm Interact Analysis. In South Korea, sales of fuel cell passenger cars such as the Hyundai Nexo tallied about 8,500 in 2021.