Introducing the automaker's new nomenclature for future hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro Concept made its global debut at the LA Auto Show. Joining Audi's current fleet of e-tron (electric) and g-tron (natural gas hybrid) variants, this production ready A7 Quattro one-off matches a front-mounted electric motor and fuel cell stack with a second battery-powered electric motor that drives the rear wheels. The two axles are electronically linked to create a virtual Quattro system that faithfully replicates operation of the conventional mechanical setup. 

"The A7 Sportback h-tron quattro is a genuine Audi - at once sporty and efficient, explained Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi. "Conceived as an e-quattro, 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."

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Not surprisingly, a look at the spec sheet shows the actual fuel cell system in this new Audi is a virtual clone of the one used by Volkswagen in its HyMotion test vehicles, the most recent being the Golf SportWagen HyMotion Concept that also made its first appearance in Los Angeles. But in addition to a forward- mounted fuel cell stack powering an electric motor that drives the front wheels through a single-speed transmission, the A7 h-tron Quattro also has a second equally-powerful motor at the rear axle energized by an 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery mounted beneath the trunk that can bolster basic performance or take the 4,299 pound Audi up to 31 miles on pure EV effort alone. Collectively, the motors develop 228 horsepower and 398.3 lb-ft of torque. That's sufficient to hustle the car from 0-62 mph in 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 118 mph. 

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When its four carbon fiber hydrogen tanks fully filled, the A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro Concept can travel up to 310 miles before needing to refuel in a process that takes about three minutes. The car's Li-ion battery pack can be partially replenished on the fly via regenerative braking that offers two stages of intensity depending on whether the transmission is in "D" or "S" modes. However, the most effective EV refill on this super-clean hybrid is done by plugging it in - a process that will take about two hours on a commercial 360V charger or four hours on a 230V outlet. 

More Fuel Cell Vehicles and EVs...

Hyundai has begun rolling out its 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell model

The 2015 Kia Soul EV goes arrives in dealers here later this year

U.S. sales of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric have now begun



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