Audi Will Lead VW’s Fuel-Cell Work

The Volkswagen Group is turning to Audi to lead the development of its fuel cell vehicles.

This is part of an effort by VW Group to make Audi as well-known for innovation as it is for luxury or sportiness.

Audi’s h-tron quattro concept, unveiled at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past January, might be a preview of Audi’s first fuel-cell vehicle. That concept is a crossover.

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“I know there’s a big discussion: ‘Why fuel cells? If everything in the future will be electric, at some point there will be a charging infrastructure and the electric ranges will increase, so who needs fuel cell cars?’ But we don’t see it so black and white at the moment,” Audi development head Stefan Knirsch said at a press event in Ingolstadt, Germany, where Audi is headquartered.

Automotive News reports that Knirsch is behind fuel-cell tech because fuel-cell vehicles have a smaller battery that is lighter and cheaper to build, and because fuel-cell vehicles can recharge in a matter of minutes.

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Audi hasn’t given a potential launch date for a fuel cell, but Knirsch told reporters that it would likely look similar to the planned electric SUV that Audi is aiming to launch in 2018.

“We chose the body style for battery electric since we got very clear feedback from our markets that is what they need to gain volumes (including fleets) and it’s also true that you can ask higher prices for such a car,” he said. “We will adopt a similar approach for fuel cell cars.”

Automotive News