Audi To Intensify Fuel-Cell Efforts Alongside Electric Car Push


For Audi, hydrogen-powered cars are nothing new, but it decided last week to increase its investment in fuel cells.

I’m writing this post from Audi’s large display at the Geneva Motor Show, where the German luxury brand is displaying a dozen cars. Every single one of them is either fully electric or a plug-in hybrid. The Audi Q4 e-tron electric crossover, which debuted this morning, is especially exciting because it will offer a new level of affordability to the brand’s lineup of EVs.

So mark my words: Audi is fully committed to a long-term and massive effort to offer battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

That strong support for electrification was reiterated by Braham Schot, who was appointed as chairman of the Audi Board of Management in January. But in a meeting with a half-dozen journalists behind the scenes, Schot said that just last week he decided to increase the company’s investment in fuel cells. He promised a new fuel-cell prototype by the end of the year and series production of a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle by 2021.

“I really want to speed it up,” he said.

Schot said that Audi customers are more excited about driving an electric car than he expected. “It’s a different way of driving. Even if emissions standards were not there, people would still love it.” He also expressed optimism about the availability of EV charging that will become commonplace in the next five years.

However, Schot questioned if there would be enough supply of EVs and batteries for rising electric-car demand in the coming years. “If this modality is here to stay, then you have to try to find the most effective and efficient way to drive electric,” he said. “And then you come to fuel cells.”

After the interview, Audi officials said that the new investment in fuel cells will play out over the next decade and across global markets. Meanwhile, Audi’s plans for battery-electric vehicles remain very much on track.

Audi h-tron quattro concept – Fuel cell

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84 Comments on "Audi To Intensify Fuel-Cell Efforts Alongside Electric Car Push"

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But why?

It is perplexing how so many manufactures keep coming back to Hydrogen…

I can only guess it’s because building the vehicle is relatively easy from their narrow point of view, and they can say the hydrogen supply chain is “some one else’s problem”. And it avoids having to make the necessary hard decisions on battery/pack factories.

But you’d think their strategy guys would see and comprehend the big picture problems, then appropriately advise their leaders. Maybe not…

This is why legacy auto makers will bankrupt in droves. They still don’t have a clue.

MBA types don’t listen to engineers. I should know, I’m a retired engineer.

They are not coming back to any fuel cell cars. These non-announcements are part of the battery supply negotiations, which are rather intense and difficult when the demand for battery cells is crushing the supply, like now.

Very interesting theory. I think that it is far-fetched but it certainly makes much more sense than investing big into hydrogen.

That is actually the first reasonable way to frame this I have heard. Hydrogen makes no sense in any other way.

You might be onto something here.

My best guess as to why is bribery from natural gas companies.

Perhaps the plan is to ensure a continuing stream of servicing income. The extra complexity and mandatory, frequent “safety” checks of the hydrogen system will keep their dealers happy.

This Philip agrees with you. Just think of how many filter changes and hose checks you will need to bring it in for.

Schot seemed to imply they can’t meet demand for batteries, in an EV-only strategy.

Not sure I believe either the MBA, or the engineer, concluding a safari into multi-million dollar H2 stations was either sustainable, or $$ practical. But the battery-shortage, he almost had me, there.

Probably more cold, calculated techno head-faking, like ~60 mini-millions from GM / Honda, or Toyota.

HFCVs are like a nasty STD that you thought you were rid of, but that keeps coming back stronger than before. 🤣

Despite the conventional wisdom of the EV echo chamber on the internets, HFC tech is advancing, costs are coming down, and HFCVs are gaining traction in various countries around the world.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence… Please provide links.

It’s not about the vehicle hydrogen technology, it’s about the impracticality of a hydrogen supply chain.

You don’t need a supply chain, because hydrogen can be made on the spot.

So can electricity. Right on your roof.
Actually very little hydrogen is actually made at the stations that pump it, of which there are an exceedingly small number. Goes along with the number of HFCV.

Just like electricity….the difference is that you need more than three times the electricity for making hydrogen. You do know why there are no off grid superchargers? They would need a few football fields of solar panels to make it work.
You think that three times those football fields will be put up by the hydrogen station?

If you don’t think so, then you got it right. And if you don’t make it on the spot you need a supply chain.

Hydrogen is a horrible idea for cars…

Entirely correct. The down-votes must be coming from Big Oil shills.

LMFAO, H2 can be made on the spot very inefficiently!

Basically H2 uses 3 times the electricity per mile as just putting it into the fast improving in all metrics batteries which is a big lose/lose in what really counts which is economics.

The vast majority of H2 will continue to be from steam reformation of NatGas which is why Big Oil loves the idea of the Hydrogen Hoax along with the fact that it is nothing more then a diversion from real sustainability with BEVs using RE.

It’s worse than that. Just making it on the spot isn’s sufficient. You have to waste more energy compressing it, using expensive high-pressure pumps, and then store it at that pressure.

All that is why H2 fueling stations will always, always be very expensive to build and maintain, even when they can only service a few dozen cars a day.

“…hydrogen can be made on the spot.”

…and then highly pressurized, and then stored in that condition, before it can be practically used to fuel a fool cell car.

You can buy a self-contained Simple Fuel hydrogen generation/ storage/ dispensing system, that you could install at home, for “only” $250,000. Cheap at the price, right? 🙄 And with a footprint only slightly smaller than a compact car, it will convert your 2-car garage into a 1-car garage, all while sucking down… what? 4x or 5x as much electricity as charging a BEV would take?

The level of wishful thinking one must engage in to actually believe that fool cell cars could ever be practical, is positively staggering!

At what efficiency, using what process, reforming fossil fuels, no thanks.

You are talking about current technology. 20 years ago current BEV technology was unthinkable. Who knows what kind of technology will be used to make hydrogen 30 years from now.
The price of hydrogen is not a super critical factor. If you combine it with a 15 kWh battery, you barely use any hydrogen during normal commute. It is just a range extender. I use about 1 gallon of gas per 250 miles in my Clarity PHEV. As a range extender hydrogen can be a viable option.

I want to play the future game too. Who knows what kind of technology will be used to make batteries 30 years from now.

I know which powertrain I would bet on being the most efficient and affordable in 30 years.

From what energy source? Oh, the electricity that you can just directly put into an EV and thereby get FAR better efficiency.

That is not accurate, you can make hydrogen from solar during the day when cars are on the road. To do the same with batteries you need one battery for storage and another one in the car. So it is not apples to apples comparison. Say whatever you want but there is potential for a range extender comprising of a small fuel cell and hydrogen tank.

Likening your HFCV platform to a case of the clap is one of the most perplexing defenses of a technology I’ve ever heard of. I don’t know if I should shake my head or raise my glass??

Yeah, right. I find your impartiality partial and your observations clearly wrong.

He actually comes across like one of the Big Oil loving Trumpster’s many outright lies and deception.

Nasty STDs are certainly a lot like your garbage postings here.

“HFC tech is advancing, costs are coming down, and HFCVs are gaining traction in various countries around the world.”
Yeah, Toyota sold 94 in February in the US market and Honda sold zero. And that is with California providing FCVs more lucrative credits than EVs. They are on fire, jumping off the lots….

Jumping off Cliffs!
One Lemming after another!

In the real world, sales of the #1 fool cell car, the Mirai, were down year-over-year in 2018.

Most of the former “fool cell” fanboys have finally faced reality. The few remaining are, I strongly suspect, paid shills for Big Oil. It’s come to arguing with one of the few remaining fool cell fanboys is as pointless and time-wasting as arguing with a Flat Earther.

And just like the Flat Earthers, the only reasonable response is to simply laugh at them and move on.

P.S. — Shills for Big Oil are not even remotely “impartial observers”.

I want to play the future game too.

EV tech is advancing, costs are coming down, and EVs are gaining traction in various countries around the world.

The question is which one is and will always be the most efficient powertrain in it’s use of an input of a unit of energy to move the vehicle forward. That will always be an EV. Then which one will be always be the most practical in its simplicity of infrastructure and fuel delivery. That will always be an EV.

The only very weak advantage HFCV advocates make for the adoption of HFCVs is fueling time and that lead is shrinking fast. That lead will be gone by the time when or if ever some third parties ever invest the hundreds of billions needed to install the same fueling capacity for hydrogen as already exists today for EVs such as the Supercharger and CCS network.

Lost cause….No way to fleece customers any more. Give it up!!
If legacy OEM’s don’t have absolute Killer technology like Tesla and efficient powertrains…nobody would save them. In 5yrs the automotive landscape will look like a real Junkyard!!! Many wont survive.

However, Schot questioned if there would be enough supply of EVs and batteries for rising electric-car demand in the coming years. “If this modality is here to stay, then you have to try to find the most effective and efficient way to drive electric,” he said. “And then you come to fuel cells.”

FSM save us. So in order to avoid building more gigafactories, we’ll instead have to create, from scratch, a massive H2 refueling infrastructure, including thousands of very expensive fueling stations, and either build massive additional renewable generation to power H2 generation through electrolysis, or else keep pumping carbon into the atmosphere by reforming natural gas. Yeah, good thinking.

Fuel cell stations of any reasonable size cost millions to build. Building 1000 fuel cell stations costs about the same amount as building the entire Gigafactory.

But heck, as long as the government is building them with subsidies, it isn’t their expense.

Note that maintaining those fuel cell stations is also very expensive. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Which puts that responsibility on Big Oil companies so you can see what circular BS this.

“…you have to try to find the most effective and efficient way to drive electric,” he said. “And then you come to fuel cells”.”

James, I thank you for the best belly laugh I’ve had in weeks! That quote you gave… Wow, just WOW. The amount of outright delusion shown in that quote is simply staggering.

All praise to the Flying Spaghetti Monster; bless his noodly appendages! 😉

It’s like they don’t know what “efficient” means.

Fuel cells make sense for heavy trucks only, imo. Also less infrastructure necessary to serve that clientele.

Natural gas fuel cells might make sense for heavy trucks in the short term. Hydrogen fuel cells not so much.

Not with hydrogen prices much higher than both electricity and diesel 🙂 Costs are an important factor for companies to take into consideration.

That makes no sense. Trucks are more cost sensitive than cars and they need a lower percentage of their overall weight in batteries to get the same range as cars.

But they are heavier, and as there are max on-the-road weight limits, that takes away from paying cargo and that’s the most expensive cost.

Still I don’t see fuel cells going anywhere.

“Fuel cells make sense for heavy trucks only…”

Why would you think that trucking companies would want to pay $16/kg for H2 fuel, any more than the average driver? Actually trucking companies are even more sensitive to the price of fuel.

Don’t be taken in by Nikola’s false claims for its vaporware fuel cell semi truck.

Even Nikola has partially seen the writing on the wall which is why they unveiled their shorter range EV semis for regional routes recently. For a company that was originally so confident in their product it’s kind of shocking that they rolled over so quickly.

This *might* work. Compressed hydrogen might have better energy density and can be refueled faster.

But that said, pure EV is catching up fast. And natural gas already exists for this and it hasn’t really caught on much for long haul trucks. (It has caught on for local trucks like garbage trucks.)

Every time I hear about nat gas garbage trucks I flashback to this video.

And you didn’t slap Mr Schot on the cheek to wake him up to reality? Shame on you. FCEV is a dead horse at the starting gate!

“If this modality is here to stay, then you have to try to find the most effective and efficient way to drive electric,” he said. “And then you come to fuel cells.” says Mr Schot.
FCEV is NEVER the most efficient way to drive electric. Somebody teach this guy some basic science, please. If the Hydrogen comes from electrolysis, it’s horribly inefficient. If it comes from cracking natural gas, it is horribly polluting. Either way Hydrogen loses.

We can give Mr. Shot a gold medal for overachievement in the field of ignoring reality. Obviously he hasn’t talked to any engineer about the reality of trying to use H2 as an everyday transportation fuel.

“So mark my words: Audi is fully committed to a long-term and massive effort to offer battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.”

No, they are not. And I can tell you why. The MEB is coming from VW and the PPE is coming from Porsche. Audi will develop the chassis and some nice interior. In comparison the the MLB, the MEB is a far more “all inclusive” plattofrm. People at Audi are a little pissed, I know that first hand. Nevertheless the will produce great EVs using these Plattforms.

So why is Audi still doing Fuel-Cell development, they are doing this for the whole VW Group. Maybe FCEV will succeed so the VW Group has something to bring to the market.

“Audi… decided last week to increase its investment in fuel cells.”

Well, that’s a decision fully as brilliant as the Edsel and New Coke.

Wait, I take that back. Neither the Edsel nor New Coke were guaranteed to be failures due to basic laws of physics. So this is actually a far worse decision.

I used to joke about FCEV, but given that 4000 lb gorilla named Tesla is smashing everything EV, I don’t blame them for grasping for straws. Problem is, the “straw” is going to be made of lead, and they’ll have to play alchemy to try to turn it to gold.

The solution is rather easy: “If you can’t beat them, join them!”

If you see the trend towards EV and renewable energies, and if you don’t want to risk any emission scandals anymore, be the first company to put aside ones own ego and call Tesla.

“Elon, we need to talk. We need battery packs and you’ve got that wonderful charging network. We can produce car parts at a scale that you cannot reach yet. Let’s make it a win-win”.

Their worst decision ever. Period.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are super complicated Rube Goldberg machines that would not even exist without the financial backing of the natural gas industry.

Hydrogen will be a key part of the *Green New Deal* switching to clean power. It is widely misunderstood. The power grid needs storage for renewable energy on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis. Batteries can handle the hourly needs, but they do not scale economically to the gigawatt-hour levels needed by the power grid. Fuel Cell vehicles are another hybrid that gets long range and fast refills. BEV cars are excellent but they do not meet every need. If you have a big job to do — long distance/heavy load/provide power at a job site — a job that requires $100 in energy, using a BEV for that is like carrying $100 in quarters, using a FCEV for that is like carrying $20 in quarters and four $20 bills — just a better trade-off.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

If you’re making the hydrogen from methane, you could just not bother and you’ll have the energy you need, in an easier form to handle.
If you’re synthesizing hydrogen using electrolysis you need one more step and you make methane, which is easy to store and use, as evidenced by the fact that it’s already stored and used in vast quantities.

If you’re synthesizing hydrogen using electrolysis, you’d also want the electricity input to be very cheap, but if your electricity is very cheap, that increases the incentive to use the electricity directly.

You cannot store electricity long-term in batteries. Fixed power installations that do so get only about 60% of their electricity back out. Renewables require storage because they cannot always be used right away; and the more renewable power the grid uses, the more storage it needs. Electrolysis can use the green energy that is otherwise wasted/not collected, and store it cheaply in large quantities, balancing the grid across seasons. Batteries cannot do that.

This does NOT mean that producing hydrogen from excessive electricity and storing it makes sense… which later is to be converted back to electricity in fuel cell car or stationary fuel cell attached to the grid. These are massive chains of inefficiency, that’s why no one does it. Better techniques exist like all kind of batteries, including repurposed from the cars, flow batteries, liquid metal batteries like Ambri, pumped hydro, liquid air electricity storage for long duration and scale…. Bulk storage of liquid air in LNG tanks is order of magnitude cheaper and more scalable than hydrogen in any form.

Power grid storage and fuel cell transportation are totally different.

Fuel cells are a terribly expensive and impractical energy storage for grid, high costs and low round trip efficiency. There will be big flow batteries well before that.

Even worse for transportation as you need a distribution and delivery system that doesn’t exist.

There may be FCEV’s for remote areas off grid, but really Diesel’s better for that.

I would be interested to know if anyone has a serious evaluation of the potential impact of processes for generating renewable hydrogen from waste, such as the patented Chemergy HyBrTec process?
See, e.g.:
“Using Bromine to Make Renewable Hydrogen from Biowaste,” By Gerald Ondrey, May 1, 2018,
“Recovering Hydrogen from Wet-biowaste: HyBrTec is a new process for producing renewable hydrogen, heat and potable water from wet organic biowaste,” by Robin, March 7, 2018,

Ok supposedly Fuel Cell technology is going great guns in China.

But every one of these articles that ‘worries about batteries’ seems to ring hollow when there are underutilized battery manufacturing facilities in the states currently.

It also seems to me there is no end to the largess spent on Fuel Cell Technology – yet if there is the shortest term unprofitability to ANYTHING electric the projects are so easily cancelled – as a for instance the
Most popular (until discontinued) Chevy Volt supposedly didn’t make quite enough profit for GM and is being totally discontinued with no replacement – meanwhile they can spend $Billions on Fuel Cell Technologies over the decades and only have a Steroided Colorado mid-size truck for the armed forces to show for it.

In 50 years no one is going to be driving, much less flying, giant batteries around. The efficiency arguments EV advocates rightly site *now* will become irrelevant once H2 is produced in-situ, even if the production means a net efficiency loss…there will just be so much of it and so easy to make (via wind, solar, geo, whatever) that efficiency won’t matter. It’s like saying the sun is inefficient. Maybe it is…but who cares. Toyota is all-in on H2 and they make the best cars in the world. So I’m with them.

Distribution and transportation of H2 will still be very expensive. Extra local generation will have local storage and distribution of that energy happens by the existing electrical wires.

For anyone interested, here’s more of what Audi CEO Abraham Schot said to reporters at the Geneva Auto Show. I took the liberty to highlight what is sure to be the most controversial part of his statement. …Schot stated that “on the European side we should really intensify development of fuel cell. I decided it last week and now we are going to put more priority into fuel cells.” Schot went on to explain that scarcity of raw materials for batteries and increased supply will eventually push any automaker serious about electrification toward hydrogen as a fuel source stating “at the end of the day, batteries are not sustainable enough — it is sustainable, but if you want to go all the way, you need fuel cells.” “We decided last week to put more money in, more capacity of people in and more confidence in we really want to speed that up,” said Schot, who couldn’t offer specifics about how much of a resource or capital investment that Audi has decided to make in hydrogen. … Audi USA Director of Communications, Mark Dahncke, also added that behind the scenes, “Audi has continued its investment in fuel cells all along to… Read more »


This guy is such an idiot. He wonders if supply will meet demand? Well, not if you don’t start building batteries, assclown. It’s a self fullfilling prophecy. Then he implies fuel cells are more efficient than batteries. How does this guy have a job?

In reality it is another example of small but agile Tesla using First Principles to guide its growth and properly invest in it’s own gigantic battery factory instead of contracting out this crucial component.

Contrast this with the world’s largest automaker now finding itself far behind in fully securing this supply and now making very poor decisions in backing a dead-end technology. VAG might as well flush their money down the toilet.

Another example of this deeply decision making is when DHL approached the German laggard OEMs for delivery BEVs and were blown off. Now DHL makes its own and is in fact selling them to others.

In 10 years business schools will be teaching how the laggard, legacy LICE manufacturers ceded their former dominance to an upstart.

I usually jump right in whenever to opportunity to bash fool cells presents itself, but in this case the folks in this thread pretty much have it handled. The “why” of Audi pursuing fool cells as opposed to making their own battery supply chain will certainly come back to bite them. The comparison of talking with fool cell proponents like they are flat earthers is an apt one. I like it 🙂

H2 tanks by your feet up front & Pinto style, behind rear axle! Nice!
/S 🙄

It looks like an abomination of engineering.

Great, just what we need…

More Fool Cells !?!

The demand for EVs went bananas and some battery suppliers of VW Group have started renegotiating the prices of their battery cells.

He decided on fuel cells one week ago. Really? A very poor attempt to make their battery suppliers listen, but the press was laughing at him. This guy was part of the problem effectively failing to properly manage the supply chains and what production to take in house. He will be sacked pretty soon along with few others.

MEB and PPE platforms do host large capacity flat battery packs in their floors, there is no room for any bulky hydrogen tanks with funky shapes, let alone for bulky fuel cell stacks which underperform all the time.

This guy is in big trouble – a performance brand like Audi will not tolerate any underperforming fuel cells with bulky hydrogen tanks damaging the performance reputation of the brand. The customers will sack him. Few fuel cell cars no one cares about maybe, more than that forget it.

Fossil fuel cell vehicles need not apply.

Do you want to put more money in the pockets of large gas producing brutal dictatorships like Russia??? Do you want to spend 3x more on fuel? Then get a HFCV, provided you live in California, Japan or Korea.

You have to wonder what forces are at play behind these things. When, it is pretty clear that fuel cells is a technology that has already lost (like betamax), and will be good at most in niche applications

Only explanation: They still have too much money available.

Audi to create a big pile of money and set it on fire.

Hydrogen can be produced from Waste Water Treatment Plants like they already do in LA

Audi is not developing their own FCEV tech, but use Hyundai’s FCEV technology.

Their partnership was announced a while ago.