VW Group Steps Back From Fuel Cell Plans, Will Focus On Electrification


Audi Elaine Electric Concept

“One of these days,” Audi will have a fuel cell hydrogen car.

It’s safe to say Volkswagen CEO, Matthias Mueller, was more than eager to talk about the group’s massive eco-friendly agenda presented earlier this month at Frankfurt Motor Show: 80 new electric vehicles by the middle of the next decade, $24-billion investment in EVs, and a zero-emissions derivative of all 300 group models by 2030.

Audi h-tron quattro concept – Drivetrain

It was an entirely different story when he was asked about the prospects of hydrogen vehicles as his answer was rather succinct by only saying Audi will have a fuel cell model “one of these days.”

The Ingolstadt-based marque has been the driving force behind FCVs within the group, so it doesn’t come as a surprise Audi will be the first to use it for a production model.

Some will remember the company with the four-ring logo has shown a few alternatively powered concepts, such as the 2014 A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro and the more recent H-Tron Quattro presented last year in Detroit.

But Audi of America president, Scott Keogh, considers EVs to be more important: “The worst thing you can do is kind of half bake electric, then go off on another science project with fuel cells, then go running to another science project.”

As Automotive News points out, the VW Group’s decision to take a step back from pursuing hydrogen fuel cell hardware could have a greater impact as there is a chance it will discourage the adoption of FCVs. That being said, other automakers are not giving up just yet as aside from current cars like the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai, new fuel cell models are on their way.

Mercedes unveiled at the same Frankfurt show a near-production version of the plug-in hybrid GLC F-Cell, while Lexus is expected to come out with an LS fitted with the same type of propulsion. In addition, BMW has been working on this technology for quite some time and it will launch a low-volume model in 2021. Meanwhile, Hyundai’s next-generation fuel cell system will land in 2018.

Source: Automotive News

Category: Audi, VW


19 responses to "VW Group Steps Back From Fuel Cell Plans, Will Focus On Electrification"
  1. Ted says:

    Electric is & will be the best & wide spread adoption by the public. Need to invest into interstate highway technology that will allow electric vehicles to replenish battery capacity as the vehicle (moving) travels down the major interstate highway.

  2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    What’s the spread on how many times “fool cells” is written in the comments?

    1. Nick says:

      Whatever the spread is, fool cells can never be written enough.

      Such a waste.

      1. SJC says:

        Reform liquid fuels, no high pressure H2.

    2. Bret says:

      I was going to say “Fool Cells”, but most EV savvy readers already know it.

      As a Leaf owner, the last thing in the world I would want is to buy hydrogen from those same oil companies that rip us off for gas. Plus, I love plugging in at night and never having to fight for a pump at a gas station.

      Electricity is ubiquitous and it can’t be constrained and monopolized like gasoline or hydrogen. Plus, it’s twice as efficient as Fool Cells.

      1. ms rural says:

        Remember Enron?

        Never underestimate the ability of corporate capitalist structures to wrestle control and manipulate the power systems and the bodies that “regulate” them.

        1. Bret says:

          That’s very true. But, now you can easily buy some solar panels and a Power Wall. The electric companies don’t have the monopoly they once had during the Enron days. Solar and storage are going to continue to get better and cheaper.

        2. Mark.ca says:

          We need another Enron today so it can push California into 50%+ solar. That was the perfect example of how destructive deregulation can be, too bad solar was not ready at that time. “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” is a must see!

      2. john Doe says:

        You can not get a monopoly on hydrogen.
        It is easy to generate.
        You just need a hydrogen generator.

        We used it at school to make hydrogen gas, from solar cells. No need for ekstra cylinders. (We even made a primitive hydrogen car we used for several years).

        We use hydrogen generators at work, in the lab, and produce what we need. No need to refill cylinders, or exchange cylinders.
        Just as we produce our own ethanol with special machines. It is a common machine with several manufacturers. They come in many capacities, from tiny models bought from E-bay, to small units made for schools/labs, to larger units for larger labs to small scale manufacturing for sale, to huge plants.


        As in all convertions there will be losses.
        Things may be more energy efficient – but there will still be a loss. Just as there is several steps with losses in an EV. An EV is more energy efficent, and will most likely be that for ever.
        It will be best to use the electricity directly, but for certain areas there is a market for hydrogen.
        Solar and wind may produce more then the grid can absord, at certain periods. Prices drop, and make the profit smaller. They may have to stop the wind generators as price drops below zero. This happens in Denmark once in a while. They can generate hydrogen from surplus energy, and use it in cars, trucks, ships and what not. No pollution. There will be less energy to the grid, which will keep prices at a more stable level. Easier for owners of wind generators, or solar power plants to make a profit.
        We’re heading for a society where energy production may be larger then the demand. At least in periods of the day. Storage may be a solution.
        If a house has a solar roof, and a powerwall to store it, and an EV to use some of it – they have a solution.
        For a business, with larger roofs, they may use some of the energy to charge EV trucks, but may as well produce some energy for a hydrogen forklift, or a hydrogen truck.

        Some of the extra energy may be converted to hydrogen gas, for fuel – which they can sell.

        It may be cheaper then installing a large storage battery, that can store all of it.

        I think over time, car batteries may integrate well with the grid, and work as a grid battery, and handle the peak demand, and peak production. Unless this will generate much extra battery wear. They are testing this in the Netherlands, and they are about 2 years ahead of other countries at the moment in this area. But with technology, this may be easy in share and incorporate in other places.

        I think hydrogen is an area where there needs to be done more research. Companies in Canada, as well as Mercedes, Hyundai, Hexagon composites and others are working on this.
        They have drastically cut prices, and from one generation to another size goes down, cost goes down.
        This is technology other businesses can use. Ferries, trains and special machinery have a need for this. It will cut global emissions, and that will everybody benefit from.
        With several car companies to foot the development costs, we may reach a level where this green technology gets cheaper – and it will give jobs for people too.
        The hydrogen generator at work, just seem to work with no maintenance.
        A hydrogen car is more complex then a regualat EV. It will have somewhat higher running costs, but at mentioned.. for some that is acceptable. Just as people buy gas and diesel now.
        But as we all have experienced, it is nice to just plug in and drive. We use the EV about 85% of the time. With less kids, less active lifestyle and less travelling an EV would do the job all the time.
        Hydrogen for used in ships would be nice. They pollute a LOT. It is important for all of us that heavy fuel oil is stopped, and that they go green one way or another.
        One single huge container ship pollute more then all the cars in a fairly large city.

  3. jelloslug says:

    Even years after Toyota predicted that there will be hydrogen refueling stations all over California by now, there are only about 30 now. Meanwhile, Tesla is building Supercharger locations that can charge more cars at once than the entire hydrogen refueling network.

    1. floydboy says:

      Looks like Nikola’s going to be the one to pick up the baton and build clean hydrogen stations throughout the US. Some with as many as 40 or more pumps! Oh wait! That was TESLA with clean electricity stations! Sorry!

    2. pjwood1 says:

      Does Toyota really have more money than Tesla?

      If they can spare it, it doesn’t seem their hydrogen thing was too sincere.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        It’s the Japanese governments, at both federal and Prefecture level, which seem to have far more dollars than sense* when it comes to fool cell cars. Reportedly, that’s up to almost $20,000 per car in some cases! (see link below) Toyota (and Honda) is just feeding on the free gravy train.

        *Well, Yen rather than dollars, but that doesn’t fit the pun.


  4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “The worst thing you can do is kind of half bake electric, then go off on another science project with fuel cells, then go running to another science project.”

    How wonderful to see that some VW exec actually understands this! Perhaps he could explain it to Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai.

    “…the VW Group’s decision to take a step back from pursuing hydrogen fuel cell hardware could have a greater impact as there is a chance it will discourage the adoption of FCVs.”

    I certainly hope so! We can hope that VW will take a deep dive into BEVs and PHEVs, and not waste resources, time, and money on putting another fool cell car into production. Here’s hoping that Audi’s fool cell car will be merely a concept car, and not a production vehicle.

    “That being said, other automakers are not giving up just yet as aside from current cars like the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai, new fuel cell models are on their way.”

    Short-term thinking. The Japanese government is foolishly giving away huge wodges of cash to subsidized fool cell cars. So of course, Japanese auto makers like Toyota and Honda want to take advantage of that. Also, even here in the USA, fool cell cars get a disproportionate number of ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) credits.

    Long term of course, the laws of physics and thermodynamics work in Japan and California just like anywhere else, and eventually even the most ardent fool cell fans will have to face the reality that cars powered by compressed hydrogen are wildly impractical, even if they continue to deny the reality that the well-to-wheel process for supplying the fuel is both horribly inefficient and highly polluting.

  5. EVer says:

    Boy, it’s hard for Audi technical management to let go of a loser. And BTW, looking at the cutaway, you couldn’t sell me a car with the explosive hydrogen tank on the bumper side of the trunk just waiting for a rear end collision. What are they thinking?

  6. Four Electrics says:

    The Volkswagen group has, historically, had no clue when it came to betting on the right drivetrain. Looks like they still don’t. They are a pack animal, and they’re following the pack into EVs. Heck, the regulatory environment demands it: electrifying an ICE is easier than making an FCEV. And that’s exactly what VW will do, in the short term: run with the herd.

    1. ffbj says:

      It’s sad, the lone FCV out of the herd fending for themselves finding little pasture in which to graze, a wrong turn on the evolution of drive-trains, ends in a whimper.

  7. Don Zenga says:

    Oh, Audi is going to sell FCV as well.
    I believe the price of A3 etron has been increased for MY-2018.

    They will sell it above $100,000.

  8. Don Zenga says:

    VW is #10 in worldwide sales of plugins and this is not good for a company that is #1 in overall sales.