BMW Group presents its pilot fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles called the BMW iX5 Hydrogen. After four years of development work, the fleet of fewer than 100 vehicles will be used internationally for demonstration and trial purposes for various target groups. The hydrogen fuel cell system is further proof of BMW’s leading development expertise in the field of electric drive technologies. BMW produces the highly efficient fuel cell systems for the pilot fleet at its in-house competence centre for hydrogen in Munich.
The hydrogen needed to supply the fuel cell is stored in two 700-bar tanks made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic. Filling up the hydrogen tanks only takes three to four minutes, enough to give the BMW iX5 Hydrogen a range of 504 km in the WLTP cycle. The BMW iX5 Hydrogen developed on the basis of the current BMW X5 was first unveiled as a concept at the IAA show in 2019. In this article, we will go through the specifics of the technology, BMW’s technological expertise, and its manufacturing process.
BMW iX5 Hydrogen: A Versatile Energy Source
Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, said that “Hydrogen is a versatile energy source that has a key role to play in the energy transition process and therefore in climate protection. After all, it is one of the most efficient ways of storing and transporting renewable energies.” BMW is pushing forward with the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology as an additional option for locally emission-free individual mobility in the future.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell System: Proof of BMW’s Leading Development Expertise
The hydrogen fuel cell system in the BMW iX5 Hydrogen is further proof of BMW’s leading development expertise in the field of electric drive technologies. The BMW Group produces the highly efficient fuel cell systems for the pilot fleet at its in-house competence centre for hydrogen in Munich. This technology is one of the core elements in the BMW iX5 Hydrogen and generates a high continuous output of 125 kW/170 hp.
BMW’s Technological Expertise: The Manufacturing Process
The BMW Group sources the individual fuel cells from the Toyota Motor Corporation, with whom they have been collaborating on fuel cell drive systems since 2013. The fuel cell systems are manufactured in two main steps, based on the individual fuel cells. The cells are first assembled into a fuel cell stack. The next step involves fitting all the other components to produce a complete fuel cell system.
Stacking of the fuel cells is largely a fully automated process. Once the individual components have been inspected for any damage, the stack is compressed by machine with a force of five tonnes and placed in a housing. The stack housing is manufactured in the light metal foundry at BMW Group Plant Landshut using a sand casting technique.
The pressure plate, which delivers hydrogen and oxygen to the fuel cell stack, is made from cast plastic parts and light-alloy castings, also from the Landshut plant. The pressure plate forms a gas-tight and water-tight seal around the stack housing. Final assembly of the fuel cell stacks includes a voltage test along with extensive testing of the chemical reaction within the cells. Finally, all the different components are fitted together in the assembly area to produce the complete system.
Manufacturing the BMW iX5 Hydrogen at Munich Pilot Plant
The BMW iX5 Hydrogen is being built in the BMW Group’s pilot plant at its Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) in Munich. Around 900 people work there in the body shop, assembly, model engineering, concept vehicle construction and additive manufacturing. In the case of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen, specialists in hydrogen technology, vehicle development and initial assembly of new models have been working closely together to integrate the cutting-edge drive.