Audi h-tron concept car

Audi is discontinuing its development of hydrogen-powered cars. This was revealed in an interview with the chair of the board Markus Duesmann in the German newspaper De Zeit. He says he sees no future for hydrogen cars and fuel cells because it will be virtually impossible to produce enough CO2-neutral hydrogen for a substantial number of passenger cars over the coming decades.

That makes it uninteresting for Audi to proceed with that expensive development. According to Duesmann, there is only one solution for a sustainable passenger car – and that is an electric car with a battery.

For Audi, this means the end of the h-tron, a car that should have been on the market by 2025 and which the company from Ingolstadt was rather enthusiastic about until recently.

Slow death

With Audi abandoning the field, the hydrogen car seems to be dying a slow death in Germany and Europe. Daimler (Mercedes) and Volkswagen had already ceased their investments in this field earlier. The French PSA doesn’t see much point in it either. BMW is still halfway in the race, not so much for Europe as e.g. Japan, where the infrastructure for hydrogen is more advanced. Audi’s sister company Porsche is still the most positive, as a recent interview by the German Auto Motor Sport magazine with Porsche-CEO Oliver Blume shows.

One of the problems is that the EU as well as environmental organizations are critical of hydrogen cars. Consequently, the chances of securing investment in much-needed infrastructure are low.

Asians

Worldwide, Asians are still the most serious when it comes to hydrogen cars. The absolute market leaders are the Japanese Toyota with its hydrogen model Mirai and the Korean Hyundai with the Nexo. Honda, for instance, is also testing the Clarity.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is berliner-feuerwehr-mirai-header_tcm-17-2006713-1004x529.jpg
The Berlin fire department purchased 4 Toyota Mirais this year, Photo Toyota Germany

Trucks and buses

The fact that it is gradually quietening down around hydrogen cars says nothing about the prospects for trucks, buses, trains, ships, and airplanes. For these forms of transport, the expectations for hydrogen as a sustainable alternative fuel are still high.

A special platform for trucks has also been set up in Europe, H2Haul where 15 companies are working together. H2Haul stands for “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks for Heavy Duty Zero Emissions Logistics.”

Check out our hydrogen archive here.

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About the author

Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.