Audi has been aggressively expanding its range, adding new models, and performance variants of those models. The Audi A7 debuted in 2011 as a 2012 model, and although mechanically similar to the A6, its hatchback styling instantly won us–and most of the industry–over. The S7 soon followed, and the RS7 will be hitting U.S. shores this fall. But it’s not just performance variants Audi is interested in. In a sign automakers are still exploring alternatively powered vehicles, Audi will begin development of a fuel-cell A7 model.
According to a report in Autocar, Audi’s technical chief Wolfgang Durheimer confirmed that development testing of the A7 fuel cell would begin in late August. Fuel cell cars use a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen to deliver power, and only emit water, which is of particular interest to automakers looking to make more environmentally friendly ranges. But there are challenges too; Fuel-cell technology is still in the early stages, and there would need to be massive infrastructure development to allow customers to “fill-up.” But unlike electric cars that take time to charge, filling up a fuel-cell car is much like filling up with regular gas, and is a quick process.
Ford, Nissan, and Mercedes-Benz have are also interested in fuel cell technology, and recently signed an agreement to cooperate on developing fuel-cell cars. Those automakers are hoping to bring production cars to market in 2017. We’ll also be following up with Audi on the development of the A7 fuel cell in the coming months. Be sure to check back for updates.