By: IOL Motoring Staff
Detroit Motor Show - With this concept, the h-tron quattro, Audi claims to have achieved truly carbon-clean motoring.
Besides the fact that its only emission pure, drinkable water vapour, the hydrogen that fuels it is produced at the Audi e-gas plant at Werlte in North Germany using electricity generated by wind power. Greener than that you do not get.
The fuel cell generates a maximum of 110kW, and there is a further 100kW (briefly) available from a lightweight (60kg) lithium-ion battery under the passenger compartment. With a 90kW electric motor on the front axle and a 140kW motor on the rear axle, the h-tron quattro delivers a combined 210kW and 550Nm from zero revs - good enough for a 0-100 getaway in less than seven seconds.
The three hydrogen tanks under the luggage compartment can be filled in about four minutes, and they hold enough hydrogen for a range of up to 600km, while the battery gets its charge from the fuel cell when the car is running on part throttle, supplemented by regenerative braking and a solar panel in the roof.
Since the h-tron concept is all about electricity, Audi has made a big deal of the lighting, with matrix laser headlights, LED daytime running lights and flat organic light emitting diode shining a blue light to the sides and upwards. There is also an organic light emitting diode strip along each sill that shines white when you approach the car with the key in your pocket - and changes to blue when the car is driving itself!
The cabin provides seating for four in individual chairs and 500 litres of luggage space; two small sensors scan the luggage and display the optimum loading order on a small monitor in the rear cutout.
There are three large organic light emitting diode displays in front of the driver; the centre one is a virtual cockpit, the one on the left is for the lights and self-driving functions, the big one on the right for navigation and infotainment. Curved organic light emitting diode displays in the front sections of the doors display the images from the rear-view cameras (mirrors are so previous-generation!) and two more touch screens on the centre console reflect drive status, aircon and information functions.
Oh, and there is an organic light emitting diode tablet behind each of the front seats so the passengers can watch videos, surf the net or share data with the driver.
The h-tron quattro concept has all the self-driving hardware - radar sensors, a new type of video camera, ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner, each with its own control unit. In future Audis, however, all that data will be fed in a central driver assistance system, to create a model of the car and its surroundings in real time, enabling it to take over the driving during parking or in stop-go city traffic at up to 60km/h.
And that is not pie in the sky, either; the central driver assistance system will be available on the next-generation A8 luxury sedan, due to debut in 2017.