BMW To Test Concept Fuel Cell Car On German Roads

BMW debuted its concept fuel cell car to the public during the company’s annual Innovation Days event, while also announcing plans to test the car on German roads later this month.

Though it’s been known for some time that BMW is working with Toyota to build a fuel cell vehicle (FCV), with these actions come solid indications of BMW’s future plans for the technology.

Previously, company executives said the lack of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure would prevent FCVs from becoming widespread. Statements from unnamed sources connected with BMW also reported that while testing may occur, a production-level FCV won’t be in the company’s future.

But that may no longer be the direction for BMW. In addition to testing its new fuel cell concept on public roads in Germany this month, BMW is also laying out future plans for a production-level FCV.

BMW’s head of engine research, Matthias Klietz, recently told journalists that BMW plans to release “a technically mature, customer-ready vehicle some time after 2020.”

“By around 2025 to 2030, we expect fuel cell cars to have an established presence, but there are challenges that remain, like building the refueling infrastructure,” he said.

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The concept FCV, still unnamed, is based on the BMW 5 series Gran Turismo. Its powertrain includes fuel cells developed in conjunction with Toyota, an 180-kilowatt electric motor, a tunnel tank mounted between the front and rear axle to store the hydrogen and a high voltage battery. According to BMW, the FCV concept is rated at 245 horsepower and will have a range that surpasses 300 miles.

But BMW said it still isn’t ready to move towards production just yet.

“Technically, we’re ready to put fuel-cell cars on the road, but so far it remains too expensive,” said Axel Ruecker, a member of BMW’s hydrogen development team. “Making fuel-cell technology a reality is a task not just for carmakers, but for the whole of society.”

It appears that for now, BMW’s plans for fuel cell vehicles is no longer an “if,” but a “when.”