BMW Group is commencing small scale production of its iX5 Hydrogen model in the pilot plant at its Munich Research and Innovation Centre (Fiz).

This claimed first Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) with hydrogen fuel cell technology has already completed an intensive programme of testing under demanding conditions during the development phase and will now be used as a technology demonstrator in selected regions from spring 2023.

“Development chief Frank Weber said: “We are certain that hydrogen is set to gain significantly in importance for individual mobility and therefore consider a mixture of battery and fuel cell electric drive systems to be a sensible approach in the long term. Fuel cells don’t require any critical raw materials such as cobalt, lithium or nickel either.”

The US BMW plant in Spartanburg supplies the base vehicles for the hydrogen model which is on the platform of the X5. They are fitted with a new floor assembly in the pilot plant’s body shop that makes it possible to accommodate the two hydrogen tanks in the centre tunnel and under the rear seat. The model-specific 12V and 400V electrical systems, high-performance battery, electric motor and fuel cell are all integrated during the assembly stage, alongside standard production parts. Positioned in the rear axle area together with the high-performance battery, the electric motor is also used in volume production BEV and PHEV models.

The fuel cell systems have been manufactured at BMW’s hydrogen centre in Garching since last August.

Numerous components are produced exclusively for the hydrogen SAV, including some made by 3D printing in the pilot plant. The hydrogen model passes through all the customary stages of production, starting at the body shop then proceeding to the paint shop and assembly before ending with a final inspection and an operational check at the test centre in Aschheim.