LONDON -- German automaker BMW plans to unveil a limited series of hydrogen fuel cell crossovers in 2022 as the company continues to research zero-emission alternatives to battery-electric cars, the company's top executive said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the carmaker's annual shareholder meeting, CEO Oliver Zipse said the company plans a small production run of a hydrogen fuel cell powered X5 crossover next year.
Most of the auto industry is focusing its efforts on developing battery-electric cars to meet tightening emission standards in Europe and China.
But BMW is one of a small number of carmakers that currently sees possibilities for the mass adoption of hydrogen fuel cells, which emit only water, and has said it is keeping its options open for the future.
As well as offering the prospect of harmless emissions, hydrogen fuel cells also provide greater range than battery-electric cars, but there is very little fueling infrastructure currently in place to support mass adoption of the technology.
Last December Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled its revamped Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, in a fresh push to promote the zero-emission technology amid rapidly growing demand for EVs.
BMW has forged an alliance with Toyota focussed on developing fuel cells.
Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. also have developed fuel-cell models.
Earlier this year Jaguar Land Rover said it was investing in developing hydrogen fuel cells in anticipation of a future shift to hydrogen to power vehicles.
JLR, owned by India's Tata Motors, will have prototypes using hydrogen fuel cells on Britain's roads within the next year, it said, as part of a long-range investment plan.