TOKYO (Reuters) -- BMW said it has developed a way to compress hydrogen to boost the range of its first production fuel cell vehicle.
The automaker's first series fuel cell vehicle will likely be a large sedan that will go on sale after 2020, BMW said.
Under its partnership with Toyota Motor Corp., BMW is working on compressing hydrogen at ultra-low temperatures to increase its storage volume, using as a base a fuel cell stack developed by Toyota.
BMW and Toyota have been cooperating on fuel cell technology since 2013, just before Toyota introduced its Mirai fuel cell model in late 2014. The hydrogen development partnership will end after 2020.
While the Mirai can travel around 700 kilometers (435 miles) on a single hydrogen fueling, BMW said it was developing a vehicle which would travel further, using compressed hydrogen, a process which would take a few more years to perfect.
"It will be sometime after 2020," Merten Jung, head of fuel cell development at BMW, told Reuters in an interview at the Tokyo auto show.
He added: "We don't have a model yet, but ... as the character of our technology favors larger cars, our model will probably be something like a long distance car, a larger sedan."
In July, BMW started testing a 5-series Gran Turismo prototype using fuel cell technology jointly developed with Toyota.
Fuel cell vehicles run on electricity created by mixing hydrogen, the world's most commonly available element, with oxygen, and emitting water in the process, rather than carbon emissions created by gasoline vehicles.
This makes them viable "zero-emissions" vehicles, but research is expensive due to costly components and the need to create fueling infrastructure, prompting many of the world's largest automakers to strike up development partnerships.
BMW's hydrogen car will likely be bigger than Toyota's midsize Mirai, and the five-seat Clarity Fuel Cell launched by Honda on Wednesday.
Jung said it was unlikely that BMW and Toyota would produce a fuel cell car together, as the world's biggest luxury car maker and the world's best-selling carmaker largely targeted different markets.
"As we have two different opinions as companies when it comes to products on the market, we probably won't have the same car on the market," he said.
"At a certain point there needs to be a difference between Toyota and BMW, and where things need to be separate, but until that point, anything is possible."