The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro sits outside our hotel room at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2014 as we write. There is a clear emphasis upon the future of the automotive industry here in Los Angeles. One of the possibilities the Volkswagen Group have investigated is the use Hydrogen to power its vehicles. The Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept is an example of what could already be achievable.
As a concept car, the Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept is far from finished, however, it is capable of covering over 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) on one tank of fuel. Whats more, its exhaust emissions are limited to nothing more than a few drops of water. The H-Tron drivetrain uses a hydrogen fuel cell together with an electronic motor at the rear to achieve this guilt-free motoring experience.
With 230 hp and 540 Nm of torque at its disposal, the A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept isn’t exactly slow either. It sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 180 km/h (111.8 mph).
The car features two modes, it can either run in electric or in hydrogen mode. With the hydrogen fuel cell, which sits under the front bonnet, just one kilogram (2.2 lb) of hydrogen is required to cover 100 kilometers (62.1 miles). It is capable of travelling 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) on battery power alone, which is recharged by recuperation or alternatively from a power socket. As an interesting piece of trivia, the exhaust system only has to handle water vapour therefore it is made of weight-saving plastic.
There is a very clear science to the Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept. Being complex, we won’t bore you with it, suffice to say that the unit features a turbocharger that forces the air into a cell stack. The hydrogen cell operates across a temperature range of 80 degrees Celsius. Cold-starting performance is guaranteed down to -28 degrees Celsius.
It takes a around three minutes to refuel the hydrogen takes. The tanks communicate with the refueling system by infrared interface and equalize the pressure and temperature levels between four hydrogen tanks located beneath the base of the trunk, in front of the rear axle, in the center tunnel.
Inside, a power meter replaces the revolution counter in the instrument cluster. The outer sections show the fuel level in the hydrogen tank and the level of battery charge. There is an EV button which allows the car to be driven solely on battery power. Switching from automatic transmission mode D to S increases the level of energy recovery when braking.
“The A7 Sportback h-tron quattro is a genuine Audi – at once sporty and efficient. Conceived as an e-quattro, its two electric motors drive all four wheels,” explained Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi. “The h-tron concept car shows that we have also mastered fuel cell technology. We are in a position to launch the production process as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready.”
We will be taking a drive in both the Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept and the Volkswagen Passat HyMotion (which also features the same powerplant). Stay tuned for more details and our overall experience of the vehicle as well as more innovation from the Los Angeles Auto Show 2014.