We ask BMW Group Malaysia’s thoughts on hydrogen and synthetic fuels, here’s what they share

During the Road Transport Department (JPJ)’s trip to BMW HQ in Munich last year, they’ve invited the company to test their hydrogen fuel-cell (FCEV) vehicles here in Malaysia. 

A snippet from JPJ’s visit to BMW Group’s HQ in Munich

Following up on that, BMW Group Malaysia shared their thoughts on hydrogen propulsion and more to WapCar.my at the company’s Business Briefing 2023 held in Kuala Lumpur, yesterday.

Also read: 2023 BMW 3 Series (G20) LCI launched in Malaysia; priced from RM 284k to RM 317k

The 2023 BMW 3 Series (G20) LCI was launched at the same event. Among the range is the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) 330e

“For us, hydrogen is a very new green fuel. For us in Malaysia, the infrastructure and the players have not emerged yet, so of course we welcome support from the government and their interest, but it only makes sense if there are other players who are ramping up as well.

So we are monitoring this closely, but it’s still very early stages,” said Sashi Ambi, who serves as BMW Malaysia’s Director of Sustainability, besides heading the communications department.

Refueling a hydrogen-powered car is familiar, and can be done in almost the same time as with conventional fuel

Hans de Visser, BMW Malaysia’s Managing Director, is also equally in support of the clean fuel. “We’re also grateful that Malaysia is starting to produce hydrogen on a big scale.

This technology will be further developed by BMW, in particular for long-distance driving and fast filling up, I think it’s the way to go,” he said.

Also read: BMW says betting everything on batteries is a bad idea, echoes Toyota’s belief in hydrogen fuel cells

The BMW iX5 FCEV, proof that green propulsion needn’t sacrifice space and fun

The development that de Visser points towards refers to BMW Group’s endeavour in other parts of the world. Breaking away from most competitors’ narrow focus in EVs, BMW in Europe is studying a multi-way approach, fervently developing hydrogen technology as well.

Their recent efforts culminated in the small-scale production of the BMW iX5 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (FCEV), itself a joint effort between them and Toyota.

Also read: Built with Toyota tech, BMW iX5 Hydrogen FCEV undergoes winter torture tests before production

On the electric front, the iX has been BMW Malaysia’s best-selling EV

As ironic as it sounds, the alternative needs an alternative, otherwise we’re left with a myopic view of things. So what’s BMW Malaysia’s take on synthetic fuels (e-fuels)?

“We actually have our thoughts on e-fuels. I personally would not knock it, because ultimately, we’re all working in innovation and we’re all working in a way to make our processes more responsible.

So if e-fuels is the first step in that direction, then so be it,” explains Sashi, though he maintains that BMW is “two-three steps further” in electromobility and hydrogen compared to synthetic fuels.

The BMW iX5’s hydrogen fuel cell powertrain

It’s a fair assessment, given that the global leader in e-fuels today are Porsche. Stuttgart is investing heavily in this technology in a bid to keep their internal combustion engines (ICE) alive alongside their all-electric Taycan lineup.

Porsche, alongside with other partners, have collaborated with Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF) to open a sprawling integrated hydrogen facility in Chile that’s dedicated to the study and production of renewable fuels.

Also read: Porsche’s new synthetic eFuels will keep classic and new combustion engines alive amidst EV push

Hydrogen tanks fitted to the BMW iX5 FCEV

Nonetheless, BMW Malaysia’s statements signal that the company are keen to try different approaches to face the challenges posed in the quest for carbon neutrality.

In fact, it’s a win-win; diversification in green propulsion means more choices for the consumer, and the current recipe of cars can be maintained for longer.

The MINI SE, now updated for 2023

As it stands today, BMW Group Malaysia is the leader in battery electric vehicles (BEVs), with over 1,000 units of the iX delivered in 2022.  Meanwhile, the MINI SE EV contributed 25% of sales in the brand’s best-ever sales record last year – meaning 1 in every 4 MINIs sold were electric.

On a related matter, BMW Malaysia has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pentas Flora, a collaborative effort that will see the latter repurposing used oil and lubricants collected from BMW dealers nationwide in one more step towards sustainability.

Also read: BMW Malaysia delivered 11,855 cars in 2022, claims 45 percent market share for No.1 position

Source: We ask BMW Group Malaysia’s thoughts on hydrogen and synthetic fuels, here’s what they share

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