German media reports suggest the Q6 h-tron will use the same MLB platform as the all-electric e-tron quattro concept. That car’s batteries, which were mounted low down to create the best possible centre of gravity, will be replaced with hydrogen fuel cells.
Although an Audi spokesman stopped short of revealing the car’s identity, it's been confirmed that “a concept car with new drive technology” is scheduled to be unveiled at January’s show.
Audi applied to trademark the phrase 'h-tron’ earlier this year. It’s already known the German manufacturer is looking to bring fuel cell technology to market, and in November we sampled the A7 h-tron. Audi engineers are said to have plenty of faith in hydrogen as a fuel, due to the ease with which it can be created, using wind turbines to 'crack' water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The Q6 h-tron’s styling is unlikely to vary much from the Q6 e-tron, with only minimal changes made to its exterior design. The Q6 e-tron will go on sale in 2018 as a rival to the Tesla Model X and costing around £60,000. The Q6 e-tron features three electric motors producing a combined 429bhp, with a claimed zero-emission driving range of 311 miles.
A production h-tron version is also likely to feature in the Q6 range, alongside traditional combustion-engined variants.
If the h-tron does make production, it will face competition from Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell in the SUV market, as well as other hydrogen-powered cars like the Toyota Mirai and Honda’s upcoming FCV Clarity.