Audi is set to intensify its development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, according to a public announcement by chairman Bram Schot.
The reasons behind the move include concerns over the sourcing of natural resources for battery production and doubts over electric cars being able to deliver on ever-more-demanding customer expectations.
As a result, the German car maker will re-establish its h-tron programme in a move planned to make it the centre of competence for hydrogen fuel cell technology within the Volkswagen Group.
“We really want to speed it up,” Schot said. “We are going to put more priority into hydrogen fuel cells – more money, more capacity of people and more confidence.”
Schot confirmed a new sixth-generation hydrogen fuel cell prototype will be revealed later this year. He added that a limited-volume pilot production Audi FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) model could be offered to customers as part of a lease programme by 2021. It is expected to be produced on a dedicated line at Audi’s Neckarsulm plant in Germany – a site that presently produces the A6, A7 and A8.
A timescale for volume production of Audi FCEV models has yet to be decided, but Schot is confident this could occur during the second half of the next decade. The new fuel cell technology is developed from a cross-licensing agreement with Hyundai, which already sells the Nexo SUV. The two car makers announced they were joining forces on FCEV development in June last year.