Audi enters the hydrogen car fray with A7 h-tron
Audi has unveiled this, the A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro. Whilst it may look virtually identical to the regular A7, underneath is anything but, since this is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell with a plug-in hybrid set-up. The fuel cell stack has been installed under the bonnet and comprises of over 300 individual cells that together form a stack.
At the core of each individual cell is a polymer membrane which is flanked by a platinum-based catalyst on both sides. The cells are able to operate between 230 and 360 volts to power the two electric motors which give independent drive to each axle. Each motor provides a maximum output of 85kW or 114bhp (or up to 114kW or 153bhp if the voltage is temporarily raised). It also produces 199lb ft of torque.
In fuel cell mode, the Audi A7 h-tron Quattro needs around 1kg of hydrogen to cover a distance of 62 miles – roughly translating to 76mpg. There are four hydrogen tanks in the Audi, giving a total range of 310.7 miles. A refill will take approximately three minutes – broadly comparable to filling a traditional tank with petrol or diesel.
The fuel cell system is supported by an 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack which has been donated from the company’s own A3 Sportback e-tron. It is installed beneath the boot floor and offers up to 31.1 miles of pure electric driving range. The battery is able to be recharged on the move by recuperation, or plugged into the mains to create a full charge in four hours.
The combined output is 228bhp and 398lb ft of torque. Despite a weight of 1,950kg, the concept is still able to accelerate to 62mph from a standing start in 7.9 seconds before going on to a top speed of 111.8mph.
The Audi A7 marks the first of the mainstream premium manufacturers to pin a flag to the hydrogen mast. Up until now, it has been conventional middle-of-the-road manufacturers, like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai which have forged ahead, in the same way as they did with hybrid technology – which then came under more attention from the likes of McLaren with its P1, Porsche with its 918 and even Ferrari with the LaFerrari as the technology proved itself. This signals that hydrogen could be here to stay – and perhaps even surpass the popularity of hybrid technology.
Audi has provided a neat and clever solution and heralds a future for decent levels of performance from future hydrogen-powered Audi’s.
This article has been prepared buy our car news team First4Auto