The longstanding green car partnership between BMW and Toyota is relatively close to bearing more fruit. As Autoblogexplains, BMW sales chief Pieter Nota told Nikkei in an interview that the brands aim to sell jointly-developed hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as soon as 2025. Nota didn’t hint at what to expect, but stressed that fuel cells are “particularly relevant” for large SUVs like the iX5 Hydrogen concept (above). Small-volume production of the iX5 is expected to start by the end of this year.
BMW and Toyota have collaborated on numerous cars over the years, including the recent revival of the Supra sports car. They formalized their green vehicle tech alliance at the start of 2013, but didn’t expect to complete work on an inclusive fuel cell system until 2020.
It may seem odd to continue work on hydrogen-powered vehicles at a time when EVs are much more popular. However, Nota pointed to a number of familiar defenses for the technology. Fuel cell cars can be refilled in just a few minutes where EVs take several times longer to recharge, for instance. Nota also said that BMW didn’t want to pour all its investments into one technology, and that hydrogen models aren’t as prone to supply shortages as their electric counterparts.
Regardless, BMW might soon ramp up EV development. Pure electric cars have represented a larger slice of sales than previously expected, and Nota suggested the company could reach its 50 percent EV sales target (including brands like Mini and Rolls-Royce) “one or two years earlier” than the current 2030 goal. While BMW still has a stake in the combustion engine world, it might not last long.