BMW has been researching fuel cell technology for over a decade now, but development seems to be acceleration ever since the automaker locked down a partnership with Toyota back in 2013. To showcase its progress, BMW recently held an “Innovation Days” technology demonstration event featuring two full-cell prototypes including one based on a 5 Series Gran Turismo and another looking based on the i8.
The hydrogen-powered 5 Series Gran Turismo features a number of components based on the automaker’s i cars, including a 241-hp electric motor and a small 1 kilowatt-hour battery. BMW developed the tank that stores hydrogen at 350 psi, while Toyota’s engineering muscle comes into play with the fuel cell unit. In all, BMW says the powertrain provides over 300 miles of range.
No specs were provided on the fuel cell i8, though this variation of the supercar’s body style is definitely eye-catching. BMW hopes to unveil its first production fuel cell vehicle by 2020, so it still has about five years to tweak its technology. Like Toyota, BMW says its biggest challenge is improving and expanding hydrogen infrastructure.
In addition to the fuel cell prototypes, BMW also revealed a 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid prototype with a powertrain that the automaker essentially cribbed from the i8. A 1.5-liter, turbocharged inline-three makes 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque and powers the front wheels, while an 87-hp electric motor sits above the rear axle.
A production version of the 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid should be revealed soon. Earlier this year BMW announced it will not sell the 2 Series Active Tourer in the U.S, though it did say it plans to offer a plug-in hybrid variant for all future models.