Audi just showed off a hydrogen-powered car that could help it leave ‘clean diesel’ behind

Audi h tron quattro concept
Audi h-tron quattro. Audi

Audi wants people to forget about diesel and focus on the company’s next generation of mobility technology.

Until recently, Audi and parent company Volkswagen have focused much of their attention on the company’s TDI diesel technology.

However, with much the sales of many of the VW Group’s TDI models suspended due to the ongoing emissions scandal, Audi’s taken to showing off new forms of fuel efficient and environmental friendly propulsion.

At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Audi proudly presented its e-tron quattro concept upon which the company will base a new electric crossover which will arrive in 2018.

This week at the Detroit Auto Show, Audi unveiled the hydrogen-powered follow up called the h-tron quattro.

At the heart of the h-tron quattro is a battery-assisted hydrogen drive system. It’s a fuel-cell powered car, which means it doesn’t need a heavy battery pack to store energy. It has a much longer range than a battery-powered car, and it can be refueled in just minutes.

Audi isn’t the only company working on hydrogen technology. BMW, Toyota, Honda, Ford and several others are all developing their hydrogen powered cars.

Here’s how it works

The Audi system features a stack of 330 hydrogen fuel cells capable of generating 110kw of power located in the front of the car where the engine would normally be found. The fuel cells are augmented by a 1.8 kWh battery pack located underneath passenger compartment that jumps in temporarily when the fuel cells need an extra boost or when they need to recuperate.

The electricity generated by the fuel cells power a pair of electric motors with one located between the front wheels and the other located between the rear wheels.

Audi h tron quattro

Together, the 406 lbs. ft. of torque generated by the system power to the h-tron for 0-60 mph in less that seven seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 124 mph.

With 13.2 lbs of hydrogen on board spread among three tanks, the h-tron has enough juice to travel up to 373 miles on a single fill up. When it comes time the fill up again, the process takes around four minutes.

The h-tron packed with tech. At the heart of the h-tron’s technology package is Audi’s autonomous zFAS piloted driving system which uses a series of radar sensors, ultrasonic sensors, a camera and a laser scanner to take over driving duties when called upon.

Audi h tron quattro

According to Audi, the zFAS system will work during stop-and-go traffic at speeds of up to 37 mph.

A production version of the zFAS system is expected to be included in the next generation Audi A8 sedan in 2017.

Like the e-tron quattro, the h-tron is also built on Audi’s new MLB evo platform which it shares with everything from the new Audi A4 sedan to the Bentley Bentayga SUV.

Unlike with the e-tron quattro, Audi haven’t said whether the h-tron will be adapted into a production vehicle.

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