BMW has been researching fuel cell technology for several years and revealed an i8-based test vehicle in 2015 to illustrate its progress. But, today, the company’s development boss Klaus Fröhlich has signalled the brand's intent to put its zero-emission drivetrain technology into production.
“We intend on building a large car with a fuel cell in 2025," he said. "Fuel cells will happen, but how relevant they will be to BMW, we don't know yet."
Fröhlich explained that BMW believed only larger cars such as the X7, which was just leaked onto the internet today, were appropriate for such a powertrain, but added that this meant Rolls-Royce was also likely to benefit from the tech.
The new Phantom is built on a flexible platform, which should make it far easier to integrate a fuel cell-powered drivetrain into the current-generation car. No date has been revealed for when it could reach market, but Fröhlich promised that “there will likely be two steps in [fuel cell] technology - one in 2020 and the next in 2025”, suggesting it could arrive soon after one of these years.
BMW’s M performance division will also make the switch to electric power, with Fröhlich confirming that “BMW M models will be electrified in the near future”. However, he refrained from revealing how soon this electric performance model would arrive.