BMW has long been involved in hydrogen fuel cell technology, and at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the German carmaker presented its BMW i Hydrogen NEXT fuel cell development vehicle.

Based on the latest X5, the vehicle serves as a preview for the next generation of hydrogen fuel cell electric drive systems that will be presented in 2022, with a small-series production version planned. On a longer timeline, BMW aims to start offering fuel cell vehicles to customers in 2025 at the earliest, although this is dependent on market requirements and other conditions.

Like the Hydrogen 7 and 5 Series GT Hydrogen before it, the Hydrogen NEXT looks somewhat “regular,” and that’s a good thing, as BMW is aiming to demonstrate that such a technology can be integrated effectively into existing models with only slight modifications.

In show car form, the vehicle does get a few aesthetic touches to mark it out as a BMW i model, including the blue patterning on the bonnet to contrast the Mineral White body, as well as blue detailing on the light-alloy wheels and diffuser elements. With a zero-emissions powertrain, the exhaust sections are blanked off as well.

There’s no word on specifications for now, but BMW has said it is working closely with Toyota to develop a hydrogen fuel cell drive system, a partnership that existed since 2013 and has been continuously fortified.

In 2016, the two companies signed a product development partnership agreement, to work together on future generations of fuel cell drive systems and on scalable, modular components for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Later in January 2017, both companies teamed up with eleven leading energy, transport and industrial companies to launch a global initiative known as the Hydrogen Council. The goal with the council is to establish a unified roadmap for the hydrogen-fuelled energy revolution, and as of June 2019, has grown to 60 member companies.