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BMW shows off a fuel-cell version of its X5 SUV

Fuel cell vehicles are still showing up hopefully charging stations will follow.
Roberto Baldwin, @strngwys
September 12, 2019
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Roberto Baldwin / Engadget

Sure, the fuel-cell infrastructure issue hasn't been solved yet, but that hasn't stopped automakers from showing off new hydrogen-powered vehicles. At the Frankfurt Auto Show BMW showed off the i Hydrogen Next development X5 SUV. Because it's always good to have a backup plan in case pure EVs stall.

The X5 BMW showed off is really just a modified gasoline vehicle. BMW's plan to create a modular platform for its vehicles includes having an option for gas engines, hybrids and pure EVs. Fuel cells currently don't figure into the automaker's drivetrain future. But, with its upcoming fleet of altered X5s, it's at least thinking about an alternative.

That automaker hopes to have fuel cell test vehicles ready by 2022 and available to customers in 2025. Of course, all of this depends not only customer demand but a more robust fuelling infrastructure. No one wants a car or SUV they can't actually fill up.

bmw

While portions of California and the northeast have filling stations, the rest of the nation is pretty much a dead zone for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Meanwhile, electric vehicles can potentially be charged anywhere with a plug. BMW isn't just going to throw fuel-cell cars into the market willy nilly.

"The BMW Group would start offering fuel cell vehicles for customers in 2025 at the earliest, but the timing very much depends on market requirements and overall conditions," the company states in their press release.

The benefit of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles is that the cars spit out water instead of a noxious gas and even though they have electric power plants, they can be refilled as quickly as a gasoline car.

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