Mehrere BMW Wasserstoff Modelle stehen nebeneinander


Mehrere BMW Wasserstoff Modelle stehen nebeneinander



Hydrogen, as a source of liquid or gaseous energy, is clearly superior to a regular storage battery. Plus, a vehicle running on hydrogen can be refuelled in a matter of minutes. Obtained through electrolysis, its resources are essentially unlimited – something you can’t say about crude oil. It can be burned as fuel in conventional engines, which is ideal for trucks. Or be used with a fuel cell to provide pure-electric drive – the best solution for passenger cars. But what may sound like the perfect answer on paper in reality represents a major technical challenge. After all, hydrogen only becomes liquid under extremely high pressure and when cooled to an extremely low temperature (-253°C). Added to which, making it uses energy, which is already in restricted supply in countries such as Germany and therefore does not come cheap. The BMW Group has amassed decades of experience in the research and development of hydrogen technology.


In 1987, BMW acquired a ten per cent share of the Solar-Wasserstoff-Bayern GmbH (SWB) company based in Neunburg vorm Wald, Bavaria. The investment would see SWB explore how hydrogen could be obtained from solar energy, stored and used as an energy source – all as part of BMW’s research into hydrogen drive systems for motor vehicles.


In 1989, BMW unveiled the world’s first hydrogen 12-cylinder engine at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. And on 11 May 2000, the first ever series-produced hydrogen car took to the streets of Berlin – with a handful of examples employed as shuttle vehicles during the EXPO 2000 event. This was followed in 2001 by the CleanEnergy World Tour, which stopped off in five locations around the world.

The BMW Archive contains over 1,000 documents, publications and files on the subject of BMW and hydrogen. Over the decades and through various stages, BMW has developed the expertise required to put today’s iX5 Hydrogen pilot fleet on the road.
Ingrid Mühlbauer, automotive historian
BMW Group Archive
BMW has been carrying out research into hydrogen as an energy source for a long time already and all of the concept vehicles created as part of these projects can be found in our historic vehicle collection.


Hydrogen offers extensive possibilities as a new universal energy source, but also presents major technical challenges that require further research and development. Most importantly, sufficient “green hydrogen” has to be made available – i.e. hydrogen generated using energy from renewable sources. A pioneering spirit and the development of large supply networks are key ingredients in an area where BMW is keen to continue leading the way in the future.

Page Overview: Hydrogen