BMW Readies Low-Volume X5 Fuel Cell Model

BMW AG plans to introduce a fuel cell-powered version of the X5 SUV/crossover vehicle early next decade, development chief Klaus Frolich tells Forbes.

The vehicles initially will be sold in small volumes as part of a pilot program in unspecified markets.

Frohlich doesn’t anticipate BMW mass-producing a fuel cell vehicle until at least 2025. He says the costs of fuel cell stacks should drop from about €80,000 ($90,000) to €10,000 ($11,000) by then.

BMW has been working on fuel cell systems for about 20 years. The X5 fuel cell model will use technology developed under a 7-year-old partnership with Toyota Motor Corp.

Currently, the only carmakers to offer fuel cell vehicles are Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota. Audi and General Motors also are developing the technology, which can provide longer driving ranges than full electric vehicles.

In addition to high costs, the lack of a hydrogen infrastructure has prevented wider adoption of fuel cell vehicles.