BMW has revealed two of its hydrogen fuel cell prototype vehicles at its Innovation Days event.
One of the vehicles, a BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo would be almost indistinguishable from the version in showrooms across the world, were it not for the words "Hydrogen Fuel Cell" emblazoned down its sides.
The 5 Series GT prototype's motivation comes courtesy of a 180kW electric motor. This is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell stack that's being co-developed with Toyota.
Oxygen is drawn into the stack from air surrounding the car, while hydrogen is fed in via specially developed tank that runs the length of the centre tunnel from the front to the rear axle. Hydrogen is stored at either 700 bar or 350 bar pressure inside the tank's chambers.
According to BMW, this fuel cell prototype has a driving range of over 500 kilometres from a full tank and its can be completely refueled in under five minutes.
The company also presented a highly modified fuel cell car based on the i8. Not only does this vehicle have a fuel cell drivetrain instead of its regular plug-in hybrid innards, it features heavily revised body work, look alloy wheels and matte black paint.
Back in 2013, the Japanese giant and BMW signed a binding agreement to jointly design and engineer next-generation fuel cell components. The long term partnership between the two automakers may also yield a mid-size sports car platform from which, it's widely expected, a long-awaited Supra successor and next-generation Z4 will spring.
In a statement today, BMW says that the partners plan to have fuel cell components ready by 2020. This seemingly confirms earlier reports that the Bavarian car maker will have a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle on sale from the start of the next decade.
BMW does warn, though, that the "successful introduction of FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles) is dependent on the development of a hydrogen infrastructure in the markets concerned".