German automaker BMW has shown off for the first time a new hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).
Designed in collaboration with Toyota, the new FCEV will be built into the body of a BMW Series 5 Gran Tourismo.
According to the company, the new vehicle can travel a distance of more than 500km (300 miles) on a single tank of compressed hydrogen fuel. Its engine delivers the equivalent of 245 horsepower similar to BMW’s new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engines.
Unlike traditional vehicles, FCEVs combust hydrogen and oxygen within a fuel cell in order to generate electrical energy which is then used to power the car’s motor.
Furthermore, these vehicles have an advantage over purely battery-electric vehicles as they can have higher maximum ranges, and can refill their hydrogen fuel at a rate similar to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
BMW has been working with Japanese manufacturer Toyota, considered a market leader in hydrogen FCEV technology, since 2013.
“The strategic collaboration between the BMW Group and the Toyota Motor Company agreed at the beginning of 2013 has provided fresh momentum for the development of FCEV drive technology,” explained BMW in a press statement.
The two companies aim to work together to support the joint development of hydrogen infrastructure.
“[BMW and Toyota] are supporting this process through jointly created technological standards which make fuel cell-powered vehicles easier to use and help to increase their reach and numbers,” the statement continued.
Toyota’s Mirai to hit the market this year
Unlike BMW’s vehicles, which at this stage are purely demonstrators, Toyota is pushing ahead with the Mirai, the world’s first commercially available FCEV.
The first of these cars are already being sold in Japan, and are expected to hit the US Californian market mid this year, before an eventual expansion into more regions over the coming months.
In order to help these sales along, Toyota is also partnering with Nissan and Honda in Japan to fund the contraction of hydrogen fueling stations and their associated support infrastructure.