BMW and Toyota will team up to produce hydrogen-powered vehicles from the middle of the decade, according to a report in Nikkei Asia.
The two will start manufacturing and selling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles jointly developed as early as 2025, BMW sales chief Pieter Nota told the publication.
The carmakers have previously collaborated and jointly developed the iX5 Hydrogen based on BMW’s X5 SUV, as well as the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra sports cars in 2019.
Toyota has plenty of experience with fuel cell technology, with its eight-year-old Mirai sedan heading into its second generation. Instead of an engine or a battery, these cars use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity.
Fuel cells offer advantages over battery-electric vehicles. They can be refueled in three to four minutes and travel longer distances. However, the US network of public hydrogen stations is concentrated in California and even there it is not ready for mass adoption.
Despite BMW’s re-entry into the EV market with the i4 four-door coupe and iX SUV, the company has hinted that it would also pursue hydrogen. In a recent earnings call, CEO Oliver Zipse said the next-generation platform, Neue Klasse, will likely be designed to house the gaseous fuel in addition to pure battery power.
The company has previously pursued a similar strategy with a platform known as CLAR that supports internal combustion, plug-in hybrids and all-battery-electric propulsion. CLAR allowed BMW to move quickly to plug-in hybrids, but its more recent pure EV efforts have slowed down relative to its competitors. Neue Klasse can fall prey to the same problems, or solve them. The market will decide from 2025, when new 3 Series sedans and X3 SUVs based on the platform go on sale.
The partnership will enable both companies to cover their investments in zero-emission vehicles. BMW aims to have EVs make up half of its corporate brand sales by the end of the decade, including Rolls-Royce and MINI.