Audi is pushing deeper and deeper into alternative propulsion every year. Recent concepts have seen a push towards electric power with the e-tron lineup, the racing division is pushing hybrid tech with diesel engines, and of course, we have Audi’s large lineup of TDI models. Now though, we have the next step towards a gasoline-free future with the A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro. This new car is based on the sporting and attractive A7 Sportback, but instead of the standard gasoline or diesel engines that Audi sells it with, this new car comes packed with a fuel cell combined to a plug-in hybrid system.

Audi promises outstanding speed and performance, with a hydrogen-only range of more than 300 miles. A unique and capable new electric Quattro AWD system makes its debut and it should give the A7 h-tron a level of handling prowess never before seen on a hydrogen car. Once you add in the fact that the A7 is a stunning looking car with plenty of room for five people, lots of luggage space and class-leading levels of luxury and the h-tron looks like a real winner.

Click past the jump to read more about the Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept.

  • 2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    227
  • Torque @ RPM:
    398
  • 0-60 time:
    7.9 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    111 mph
  • Price:
    100000
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The corporate nose sits proudly in the front with the hexagonal grille and the Four Rings emblazoned across it.

On the outside, there are very few outward items that distinguish this hydrogen-powered hybrid from any other A7. This is by design, as Audi believes that the car shouldn’t be altered to bring focus to the new technology. Rather the technology should simply fade into the background. As such, the h-tron is still the same swoopy, five-door shape that A7 fans have grown to know and love. The corporate nose sits proudly in the front with the hexagonal grille and the Four Rings emblazoned across it.

There is a new wheel design for this concept, and to let the world at the auto show know it has a magic drivetrain, there is a huge “A7 h-tron” decal plastered to the side, but otherwise it’s a standard A7.

Interior

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Interior
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The same attempt to hide the futuristic drivetrain has been applied to the interior as well. The same attractive wood, aluminum and leather covers the cabin filling it with warmth and luxury. Aside from the large power and charging gauge on the left side of the gauge cluster, no normal passenger would ever suspect that the h-tron is anything more than a comfortable grand tourer. Every detail of the standard A7 is present form the perforated leather seats to the MMI infotainment system, and even the trick Bang and Olufsen stereo with the speakers that rise out of the dash.

Drivetrain

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Drivetrain
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The hydrogen system alone is capable of carrying the car more than 300 miles on a full tank.

Now to the meat and potatoes of the new A7 h-tron Quattro: that incredible new driveline. The car actually features two distinct drivelines that work in tandem to power the new car. In the nose is a hydrogen fuel cell that acts as a powerplant to convert hydrogen fuel into electricity to power the car’s electric motors. In the rear of the h-tron there sits a more traditional electric propulsion system powered by a lithium battery. This can be charged while driving using excess energy from the fuel cell, regenerative braking, or it can be charged from the mains as a traditional plug-in hybrid would be.

This dual-electric system is what enables Audi’s new electronic Quattro system. Despite having no mechanical connection between the front and rear driven wheels, the multiple motors and power sources allow the A7 h-tron to vary torque levels and provide an effective and capable all-wheel-drive system.

The hydrogen system alone is capable of carrying the car more than 300 miles on a full tank. The plug-in hybrid portion ads an extra 30 miles of range. When their powers combine the two systems are good for 398 pound-feet of torque, while horsepower sits at a max of 305 with boosted voltage. Audi claims that is enough for the A7 to hit 60 mph in less than eight seconds and it will carry on to a top speed of 112 mph. That doesn’t sound that impressive, but it makes the h-tron the fastest car in the segment.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type Two electric motors plus e‑quattro
Output 227 HP (305 HP with voltage raised)
Torque 398.3 LB-FT
0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) 7.9 seconds
Top speed 180 km/h (111.8 mph)
Driving range 500 kilometers (310.7 mi)

Prices

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Emblems and Logo Exterior
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There is no released pricing for the A7 h-tron Quattro, but considering the new Toyota fuel cell car carries a price above $50,000 I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sticker of more than $100,000 for this most futuristic of A7s.

Competition

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

2015 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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With 416 angry, hybrid horsepower, that legendary crest on the hood and room for four in a swoopy shape, the Panamera seems like the perfect competitor for a car of the same level of luxury and prestige as the A7 h-tron. Just like the A7, the Porsche makes use of two modes of energy production, including a plug-in hybrid system. The Porsche drops the fancy hydrogen fuel cell though and instead opts for a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. The result is a car that is far faster than the Audi, but it is far worse on emissions. The Audi emits nothing but water after all.

Still, pricing is similar and sizing is similar making them good competitors. Buyers would be forced to choose between speed and ecological responsibility.

Toyota Mirai

2016 Toyota Mirai High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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If your main purchase decision is based around snagging a car powered by hydrogen, the new Mirai from Toyota is one of the best options available. With a nine-second 0-to-60 run, it won’t be winning any races, but it will comfortable fit five people, only costs $57,000 before any government incentives or tax breaks and it will still hit that same 300-mile range as the A7 h-tron. It is not nearly as attractive, and the luxury level is far from that of the German, but Toyota is offering three years of free hydrogen for all new buyers.

With the Mirai you get to have your carbon-neutral transportation, and Toyota will basically pay you to drive it. I find that a deal that is hard to beat by any standards.

Conclusion

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The A7 h-tron Quattro is a marvel of engineering. I am just sad that the company won’t be producing it yet. A fledgling infrastructure for hydrogen fueling, a lack of standards and regulations regarding hydrogen fueling and a nearly non-existent buyer market are all conspiring to keep this amazing car off the road. With a novel new take on both the idea of a fuel cell car and a hybrid, the A7 bridges a gap that will only serve to advance the progress and acceptance of fuel cell cars. This may not look like it, but it is a car that could change the world. The leather interior and sexy body shape are just cherries on top of the pie.

  • Leave it
    • Still no real hydrogen infrastructure
    • Slowest A7 you can buy
    • Won’t be produced

Press Release

It covers over 500 kilometers (310.7 mi) on one tank of fuel – and its exhaust emits nothing more than a few drops of water: The A7 Sportback h tron quattro uses a powerful, sporty electric drive with a fuel cell as its energy source, in combination with a hybrid battery and an additional electric motor in the rear. Its drive configuration makes the emission-free Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro a quattro through and through, with 170 kilowatts of power at its disposal – a new departure in fuel cell cars. There is no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles. As an e quattro, the A7 Sportback h-tron quattro features fully electronic management of torque distribution.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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To coincide with the Los Angeles Auto Show 2014, Audi is inviting international motoring journalists to drive their first few test kilometers on public roads with the technology demonstrator.

“The A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro is a genuine Audi – at once sporty and efficient. Conceived as an e‑quattro, its two electric motors drive all four wheels,” explained Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi. “The h‑tron concept car shows that we have also mastered fuel cell technology. We are in a position to launch the production process as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready.”

In the fuel cell mode, the A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro needs only about one kilogram (2.2 lb) of hydrogen to cover 100 kilometers (62.1 mi) – its energy content is equivalent to that of 3.7 liters (1.0 US gal) of gasoline. The tank capacity means it is capable of a range of more than 500 kilometers (310.7 mi).

Like a car with combustion engine, refueling takes no more than around three minutes. The range is boosted by up to 50 kilometers (31.1 mi) by a battery with a capacity of 8.8 kilowatt‑hours, which is recharged by recuperation or alternatively from a power socket. As a plug-in hybrid, the A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro will thus have crucial extra range in reserve.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro
It sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mi) in 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 180 km/h (111.8 mph). It covers over 500 kilometers (310.7 mi) on one tank of fuel – and its exhaust emits nothing more than a few drops of water: The A7 Sportback h-tron quattro, which Audi is unveiling at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2014, uses a powerful, sporty electric drive with a fuel cell as its energy source that operates in combination with a hybrid battery and an additional electric motor in the rear. The overall electrical system power of 170 kW is transferred to both the front and the rear wheels. This drive configuration makes the emission-free Audi A7 Sportback* a quattro through and through – a new departure in fuel cell cars.

“The A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro is a genuine Audi – at once sporty and efficient. Conceived as an e‑quattro, its two electric motors drive all four wheels,” explained Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi. “The h‑tron concept car shows that we have mastered fuel cell technology. We are in a position to launch the production process as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready.”

The “h” in the name h‑tron denotes the chemical element hydrogen. In visual terms the technology demonstrators that Audi has brought along to the Los Angeles Auto Show basically resemble the production models. As the label with the h‑tron signet reveals, this concept car now takes its place alongside the other Audi models with alternative drive principles, the e‑tron and g‑tron. Externally, there is no other evidence of the fuel cell that converts hydrogen into electrical power on board the vehicle.

The fuel cell
The crucial differences are beneath the hood of the A7 Sportback: The fuel cell in the Audi technology demonstrator is installed at the front, mirroring the conventional A7 Sportback with combustion engine. Because the exhaust system only has to handle water vapor, it is made of weight‑saving plastic.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The fuel cell itself comprises over 300 individual cells that together form a stack. The core of each of these individual cells is a polymer membrane. There is a platinum-based catalyst on both sides of the membrane.

This is how the fuel cell works: Hydrogen is supplied to the anode, where it is broken down into protons and electrons. The protons migrate through the membrane to the cathode, where they react with the oxygen present in air to form water vapor. Meanwhile, outside the stack the electrons supply the electrical power – depending on load point, the individual cell voltage is 0.6 to 0.8 volts.

The entire fuel cell operates in the voltage range of 230 to 360 volts. The main auxiliary assemblies include

a turbocharger that forces the air into the cells,
the so-called recirculation fan – it returns unused hydrogen to the anode, thus increasing efficiency, and
a coolant pump.

These components have a high-voltage electric drive and are powered by the fuel cell.

There is a separate cooling circuit for the essential cooling of the fuel cell. A heat exchanger and a thermoelectric, self-regulating auxiliary heating element maintain pleasant temperatures in the cabin.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Emblems and Logo Exterior
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The fuel cell, which operates across a temperature range of 80 degrees Celsius, places higher demands on the vehicle cooling than an equivalent combustion engine but achieves superior efficiency of as high as 60 percent – almost double that of a conventional combustion engine. Its cold-starting performance is guaranteed down to -28 degrees Celsius.

Plug-in hybrid
A special feature of the A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro is its plug‑in hybrid concept – this represents a logical evolution from the Audi A2 H2 and Q5 HFC test cars. It has a lithium‑ion battery on board that can be recharged from the power socket by lead; with an 8.8 kWh energy capacity, it has been adopted from the A3 Sportback e‑tron*. It is located beneath the trunk and has a separate cooling circuit for thermal management.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Interior
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This high‑performance battery makes the ideal partner to the fuel cell. It can store energy recovered from brake applications and supply considerable power for full‑load boosting. This paves the way for impressive acceleration, making the A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro truly live up to quattro standards. Both the front and rear axles have no mechanical connections for the transmission of power. In the event of slip, the torque for both driven axles can be controlled electronically and adjusted continuously.

On battery power, the Audi A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro covers as much as 50 kilometers (31.1 mi). The battery in the rear of the plug‑in hybrid can be recharged by lead. Depending on the voltage and current rating, a full recharge takes between two hours (industrial power socket/360 volts) and four hours (domestic power socket at 230 volts).

The battery operates at a different voltage level to the fuel cell. For that reason, there is a DC converter (DC/AC) between the two components. This tri‑port converter is located behind the stack. In many operating statuses it equalizes the voltage, enabling the electric motors to operate at their maximum efficiency of 95 percent.

The power electronics in the front and rear of the vehicle convert the direct current from the fuel cell and battery into alternating current for the electric motors to drive the front and rear axles separately.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Drivetrain
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The two electric motors, which are cooled by a low-temperature circuit together with the voltage converters, are permanently excited synchronous machines. Each of them has an output of 85 kW, or even 114 kW if the voltage is temporarily raised. The peak torque is 270 Newtonmeters (199.1 lb‑ft) per electric motor.

The electric motors’ housings incorporate planetary gear trains with a single transmission ratio of 7.6:1. A mechanical parking lock and a differential function round off the system.

The appeal of e-quattro
Driving in the Audi A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro offers the full appeal of electric drive in conjunction with the new e‑quattro. The silent propulsion is fully available from the off, and the fuel cell reaches its maximum output within one second at full load – a more dynamic response than a combustion engine because the entire drive system involves only a few mechanical components.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Drivetrain
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With 540 Nm (398.3 lb‑ft) of propulsive power at its disposal the Audi A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro, which tips the scales at only around 1,950 kilograms (4,299.0 lb), races from a standstill to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 7.9 seconds. Its top speed is 180 km/h (111.8 mph) – a top figure for its field of competitors. The e‑quattro concept requires precise coordination of the electric motors – the technology demonstrator offers a sporty, stable and high-traction drive that is comparable to a production car with mechanical quattro drive.

A power meter – in the place of the revolution counter in the instrument cluster – informs the driver of the momentary power flow. The outer sections show the fuel level in the hydrogen tank and the level of battery charge. Graphics on the MMI monitor visualize the energy flow. When the driver presses the EV button, the technology demonstrator drives solely on battery power.

Switching from automatic transmission mode D to S increases the level of energy recovery when braking, so that the battery is charged up effectively during sporty driving. Brake applications, too, are almost always accomplished fully electrically: The electric motors then act as alternators and convert the car’s kinetic energy into electrical energy that is stored in the battery. The four disk brakes only become involved if more forceful or emergency braking is required.

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept Drivetrain
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The tank flap is in the right side section of the five-door coupé, concealing a filler connector for the hydrogen. Fully refueling with H2 takes around three minutes, roughly as the same as a conventional automobile. The tanks communicate with the refueling system by infrared interface and equalize the pressure and temperature levels.

Zero emissions
The four hydrogen tanks of the Audi A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro are located beneath the base of the trunk, in front of the rear axle, in the center tunnel. An outer skin made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) encases the inner aluminum shell. The tanks can store around five kilograms of hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar – enough to drive over 500 kilometers (310.7 mi). According to the NEDC cycle, fuel consumption is roughly one kilogram (2.2 lb) of hydrogen per 100 kilometers (62.1 mi) – an amount with an energy content equivalent to 3.7 liters (1.0 US gal) of gasoline.

It is already the case that the A7 Sportback h‑tron quattro always travels with zero local emissions. By using the renewable fuel hydrogen, it can also be used globally as a zero emissions vehicle: Since 2013 Audi has been operating a pilot plant in which renewable wind power is used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. At present, this hydrogen is still used in an additional production process to obtain synthetic methane (Audi e‑gas). A future move to feed this hydrogen into a hydrogen supply and filling station network would make it available for refueling fuel-cell vehicles. This is a sound option for sustainable mobility with no emissions.

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