Following the development and testing of the iX5 Hydrogen reminds me of the last (and present) Nintendo Switch games I’ve been playing with my kids—The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. No, not because the iX5 is trying to overcome an evil force and rescue an elf-like Hylian princess named Zelda. Rather, the main storyline of the open-ended games involve the main character, Link, completing quests and challenges in four vastly different and often harsh climates and terrains.

Similar to the extremes of Hyrule, BMW has put the iX5 Hydrogen through subfreezing, snow and ice-packed landscapes, urban jungle cityscapes, and most recently arid desert conditions. So far, it has passed with flying colors. BMW reports, “The car’s fuel cell drive system performed impressively in the face of temperatures rising to 113°F, as well as sand and dust, varying gradients and significant fluctuations in humidity.”

The iX5 has certainly made its way around the globe. BMW says, “Vehicles from the pilot fleet are currently in action in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, the USA and the Middle East. The aim is to shine a spotlight on the everyday usability of hydrogen-powered vehicles, and beyond that to gain important knowledge for the development of a potential series-produced model.”

Based on the lack of charging infrastructure in remote areas, hydrogen-powered vehicles can potentially provide a more practical option for emission-free driving. In a way, this makes the iX5 Hydrogen a Link—see what I did there?—bridge the gap between ICE and fully-electric vehicles.

BMW continues to state that hydrogen-powered vehicles will have their place, saying “The BMW iX5 Hydrogen combines long-distance capability and short refueling stops with locally emission-free driving. Provided the relevant framework is in place, the hydrogen fuel cell technology has the potential to serve as another pillar in the BMW Group’s future drive system portfolio.”

The iX5 Hydrogen’s fuel cell system produces 170 horsepower using fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology. Overall drive system output rings in at 401 horsepower. The hydrogen needed to power the fuel cell is stored in a pair of 700-bar tanks made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), giving the BMW iX5 Hydrogen a range of 313 miles. 

It won’t be long now until the iX5 Hydrogen faces the final boss, which may just be public opinion. I don’t want to give any game-ending spoilers though, so you’ll have to tune in as the iX5 Hydrogen completes more side quests. —Mike Bevels

[Photos by BMW.]



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