Despite the focus on electrification, the company hasn’t given up on hydrogen fuel cell technology. It’s been a few years since Audi has showcased a fuel cell concept, but Autocar reports a new prototype – with a sixth-generation fuel cell – will be introduced later this year.
According to the publication, the renewed focus on hydrogen comes as a result of growing concerns about the supply of raw materials needed to produce battery packs. Issues are already popping up and they’ll likely become more severe as electric vehicles begin to flood the market.
To combat this and other issues, Audi is set to become Volkswagen’s lead group on hydrogen fuel cell technology. As Audi chairman Bram Schot explained, “We are going to put more priority into hydrogen fuel cells – more money, more capacity of people and more confidence.”
As part of this effort, Audi could put a fuel cell vehicle into limited production. Little is known about it, but the model could be produced in Neckarsulm, Germany and be offered to consumers through a special leasing program. The model could arrive by 2021 and use fuel cell technology sourced from Hyundai thanks to an agreement that was inked last summer.
Later on, we can expect additional fuel cell vehicles. There’s no word on specifics, but Schot suggested volume production could begin during the second half of the next decade. That’s pretty far into the future, but hopefully hydrogen refueling stations will be more common by then.