BMW open to making a hydrogen-electric, New Class-based model

BMW is currently developing an architecture called New Class that will underpin a new range of EVs starting in 2025. While the platform isn’t being designed with internal combustion in mind, Autoblog learned that the German firm hasn’t ruled out making it compatible with hydrogen.

“We are working on being on able to integrate hydrogen [into the New Class platform]. Not as of 2025, and probably only in the larger cars. We haven’t finished [the project] yet but it’s a possibility,” Jürgen Guldner, the hydrogen program’s general manager, told me.

Starting with a blank slate gives BMW the opportunity to future-proof the New Class platform — it’s much easier and a whole lot to cheaper to design the architecture with hydrogen in mind from the get-go, even if this option is never used, than to modify it to take a hydrogen-powered drivetrain after it’s been in production for a couple of years. Guldner added that his team is looking at a clever packaging solution.

“The tank system [in the iX5] is pretty big, and it’s located right in the middle of the car. The idea is to have smaller tanks positioned next to each other that take up the space of an EV’s battery pack. Smaller tanks, still cylindrical, but more of them, and then we’re flexible. The rest of the infrastructure is already in the car — the motor, for example. We haven’t really decided yet, but the possibility is there,” Guldner added.

Regardless of whether a hydrogen-electric, New Class-based model reaches production, Guldner has high hopes for the technology.

“It’s the most exciting project that I’ve worked on in my 25 years at BMW, and I’ve done some cool stuff,” he says with a smile.

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