- The BMW i Hydrogen Next concept foreshadows a fuel-cell production vehicle based on the X5 coming in 2022.
- The i Hydrogen Next’s front fascia is the same as what we’ve seen in leaked photos of the 2021 BMW X5 M.
- BMW envisions a future where hydrogen fuel cells, battery-electric powertrains, and plug-in hybrids coexist.
Officially, BMW’s i Hydrogen Next concept previews a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle that will go into limited production in 2022. Unofficially, the 2019 Frankfurt auto show concept also offers an early glimpse of the gas-swilling 2021 BMW X5 M. The i Hydrogen Next’s larger intakes are an exact match for those seen in recently leaked photos of the BMW X5 M Competition.
The next-gen hot-rod X5 M should beat the hydrogen model to market, arriving sometime next year, likely as a 2021 model, and making about 600 horsepower from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8. The Competition model should turn the power up to roughly 620 horsepower.
The styling of the hydrogen concept diverges from that of the X5 M at the rear. Where the M model will have four exhaust outlets, the i Hydrogen Next hides the fuel cell’s exhaust, which only emits water vapor, out of sight. The concept drives the rear wheels with a single electric motor that a BMW representative would only describe as “very powerful.”
The fuel-cell stack is another result of the collaboration between Toyota and BMW that spawned the excellent Toyota Supra and BMW Z4 roadster. Hydrogen tanks fit under the rear seat and in the central tunnel, and cargo volume is the same as in the BMW X5 xDrive45e iPerformance plug-in hybrid. BMW says the i Hydrogen Next can refuel in less than four minutes and delivers a range between 310 and 370 miles. We expect the 2022 production model to be mechanically and stylistically similar to this concept, as BMW acknowledges it, too, will be based on the X5 crossover.
BMW, along with several other automakers, sees hydrogen fuel cells as another pillar in an electrified future that is also built around battery-electric powertrains and plug-in hybrids. But as the i Hydrogen Next concept reminds us, the company won’t be abandoning gas-fueled vehicles anytime soon.