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Audi A7 H-Tron in the driving report: Plug-in electric fuel cell all-wheel drive

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Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro in the driving report
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M with a soft whirring sound, the Audi glides A7 Sportback out of the parking space and joins the hectic rush hour traffic in the US metropolis Los Angeles. In the cockpit, only the scale known from e-cars indicates that this is not an ordinary A7. Instead of the speed, the driver can read in the round instrument whether the drive unit is recovering energy or how much it is using the power of the two 85 kW electric motors. The heart of the H-Tron is currently the fourth generation of fuel cells from Audi, which ensures that the electric A7 Sportback can travel more than 500 km - and only a few drops of water come out of the exhaust.

Where there are no hydrogen filling stations, there are no customers

A few kilometers are already behind us and the question arises as to why this car is not yet available for sale. The Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro looks as mature as a production car. The problem is not the technology, but the infrastructure, explains Audi chief developer and co-driver Ulrich Hackenberg. To put it simply: where there are no hydrogen filling stations, there are no customers. But a hydrogen filling station costs over a million euros. The well-known chicken and egg problem: Without a significant number of hydrogen cars, nobody wants to invest in a filling station network, but without filling stations there is no interest in mass-producing hydrogen cars. After all: Toyota wants to build a small series of 3,000 of its Fuel Cell car and is investing in several gas stations in the eco-car model country California. The current 16 should become 50. Given the size of the US state, there is still no question of a nationwide hydrogen filling station network.

The performance values ​​of the Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro, for example, are impressive: In 7.9 It spurts from 0 to 100 km /h in seconds and reaches a top speed of at least 180 km /h.

Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro with 50 kilometers of electric range

Unlike with Competitors in the Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro do not use the fuel cell as a power supplier for a battery, but rather supply the electric motors directly. In addition, the H-Tron has a lithium-ion battery on board that can be recharged via a cable at the socket, which stores the recuperation energy when braking. She gives this inIn the form of a boost, if the H-Tron is to be accelerated quickly. Then the driver has another extra service available. With the battery power, the H-Tron has a purely electric range of up to 50 kilometers.

Another special feature: In contrast to the fuel cell vehicle VW Golf Variant HyMotion, which was also presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Audi an all-wheel drive car. The front and rear axles get by without a mechanical connection. The respective torque for both driven axles can be electronically regulated and varied continuously when there is a slip.

And what happens next in terms of fuel cells? A new test vehicle will follow next year, which once again clearly exceeds the H-Tron in terms of efficiency of the cell. From the fifth generation there will then also be a small fleet. “With the H-Tron, we are showing that we have also mastered fuel cell technology. As soon as the market and infrastructure justify it, we can start the series process, ”says Hackenberg. Meanwhile, Audi does not want to force the development of a filling station network.

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