Fuel-cell Audis are coming

Audi has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to advanced automotive powertrains, offering e-tron power in A3 and Q7 forms, so it will be no surprise to hear that fuel-cell vehicles have been in the marque’s pipeline for a while – but they’re closer now than ever before, starting with h-tron.

Audi’s Chief Engineer, Stefan Knirsch, has disclosed information on the eagerly-anticipated quattro concept, saying that ‘The car will not come with a conventional powertrain’, stating that there will be pure electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell options available in time.

This fuel-cell option - the h-tron quattro concept - has been shown twice to the world, in Detroit in January and Geneva in March, revealing a dramatically-styled hydrogen-powered SUV creation that will follow the e-tron quattro into production. The all-electric e-tron quattro is expected to go into production next year, with the hydrogen-powered version arriving a while after.

The h-tron’s production debut is currently restricted by its lack of fuelling infrastructure, which will need to be put in place prior to launch. Knirsch commented ‘The car is ready soon. But we won’t launch it until there is fuelling infrastructure. There is some in California and Japan, but that’s not enough.’

Though currently expensive to build, when the infrastructure issue has been resolved, scale effect will impact and as more h-tron quattro vehicles are built, the less each unit will cost to produce. Audi is addressing the issue of fuel too, with a small pilot plant making hydrogen without CO2 – Audi electrolyses water into hydrogen using renewable energy. The hydrogen is then turned back into water and electricity in the fuel-cell vehicle, generating true zero-emission driving.

Hydrogen power will assuredly offer a viable alternative to electric power, especially as ‘In the US, the electric vehicle won’t be counted as a zero-emissions vehicle because of the CO2 in electricity generation’. Better yet, the h-tron quattro can be refuelled with hydrogen in a matter of three or four minutes, just like a petrol or diesel car, plus there’s no added weight as no batteries are required to generate power.

To feel the Audi e-tron driving experience for yourself, contact Jardine Motors Audi to arrange a test drive in the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron – it’s truly electrifying.