Audi H-tron Hydrogen SUV project scrapped – Report

The Covid-19 pandemic has ensured that manufacturers shut down high-tech projects if, at the end of the day, they remain merely experiments in showcases. In 2020, Audi decided that it will no longer focus on hydrogen power for any future products, which naturally concludes the fate of the Audi H-tron SUV concept.

Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board for Audi AG, told German newspaper De Zeit, that it is virtually impossible to produce enough CO2-neutral hydrogen at scale for passenger cars in the coming decades. According to the executive, the only sustainable solution for passenger cars is an electric car with a battery.

Audi H-Tron fuel cell concept
The Audi H-tron concept featured a range of 372 miles with only 4 minutes needed to fill its hydrogen tank. Image: Audi

This year, the auto industry continues to struggle because of the pandemic, and the sentiments about hydrogen cars at Volkswagen Group have remained unchanged. Group Dr. CEO Herbert Diess downplayed political efforts of pushing hydrogen cars in the market with a post on Twitter in February. Politicians should accept that green hydrogen best suits steel, chemical, and aero industries and it “should not end up in cars.” Diess ruled green hydrogen “far too expensive, inefficient, slow, and difficult” to produce and transport. He concluded the post by saying that the company doesn’t have hydrogen cars in sight.

In May 2021, Diess said in a post on Twitter that hydrogen cars have not proved to be the climate solution. Meanwhile, Duesmann told Welt am Sonntag (via Welt) that the transition to zero-emission vehicles would become complicated if countries had a difference of opinion. The change won’t become easier if one country promotes hydrogen, another country promotes e-fuel vehicles, and a third country promotes battery electric vehicles, he said.

In October 2021, Duesmann confirmed to Auto Zeitung that “there is no significant area of application for fuel cells in cars.” He went as far as calling the cycle of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains “simply absurd.”

You need a large amount of green electricity, which you first convert into hydrogen, and then turn it back into green electricity in the car and convert it into kinetic energy. For me as an engineer, that is simply absurd.

Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Auto Zeitung interview October 15, 2021)

To recap, the Audi H-tron was an SUV concept unveiled at the 2016 edition of the NAIAS in Detroit, USA. It was billed as a highly efficient and sporty hydrogen SUV with 2.2 lbs of hydrogen consumed per 62 miles, and a mere 4 minutes required to fill the tank. The Audi H-tron had a range of 372 miles between a tank of hydrogen, and for its time, had a low Cd (coefficient of drag) of only 0.27.

With its entire focus of sustainable mobility directed towards the battery-electric car, Audi will be making significant strides in this area through 2025. This year, the company launched the Audi e-tron GT, Audi Q4 e-tron, and Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron. Plus, China received an exclusive Audi Q5 e-tron. In 2022, it will unveil the Audi Q6 e-tron and launch a new Audi e-tron and new Audi e-tron Sportback. In 2023, Audi has promised to deliver the production version of the Audi A6 e-tron.

Audi will base all its upcoming (EV) models on the shared platforms within the VW Group (MEB, PPE, or SSP). A production Audi H-Tron doesn’t seem commercially feasible in the current conditions.

Featured image: Audi