Hydrogen may seem impractical as a fuel for cars, but manufacturers are still giving the eco-friendly substance a go. In Audi’s case, we present the ‘h-tron quattro’ concept.
The Audi h-tron quattro concept – unveiled at the 2016 Detroit Motor Show – is based on Audi’s second-generation version of its modular longitudinal platform and follows on from the e-tron quattro seen at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
It uses a combination of fuel cell technology and a 100kWh lithium-ion battery that weighs 60kg to power two electric motors, one on the front axle with 120hp and one on the rear axle with 187hp.
Hydrogen used to create energy is stored in three hydrogen tanks beneath the passenger and luggage compartments, each one at a pressure of 700 bar.
A total refill can be achieved in four minutes (about as long as it takes to fill a petrol car), after which it has a claimed range of 372 miles.
Performance should be pokey, given the hydrogen fuel cell develops 147hp and the lithium-ion battery adds another 134hp available on demand, with maximum torque an impressive 550Nm. 0-62mph is said to take less than seven seconds and the top speed is limited to 124mph.
Storing hydrogen is one of the main safety concerns of a hydrogen car, which explains why each tank is made up of several protective layers, including a gas-tight polyamide encased in carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) and glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP).
The h-tron quattro uses just one kg of hydrogen per 62 miles. Local emissions are zero and, if the hydrogen is sourced from a clean, renewable source, so are its global emissions (ignoring the manufacturing process, of course), making it extremely eco-friendly.
Plenty of clever technologies line the interior. For starters, there are two small sensors in the 500-litre boot that can scan items of luggage and let you know the optimum way to load them, maximising luggage (or wine/beer) space for the four passengers.
Meanwhile there are three large displays in the front of the driver, each one utilising OLED technology, a steering wheel with contoured touch surfaces on the spokes that act as a control method and two more OLED displays for controlling things like the air conditioning.
Besides keeping things green, the h-tron quattro uses radar sensors, a ‘new kind of video camera’, ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner to provide autonomous driving at speeds up to 37mph as part of its zFAS driver assistance system.
Audi says the h-tron quattro concept is a step towards ‘the long-term goal of CO2 neutral mobility’. The technology will be available to consumers, starting with the Audi A8 Saloon in 2017.