In addition to the A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid and A3 g-tron natural gas production cars, not to mention the stillborn R8 e-tron electric supercar, The Ingolstadt gang is reportedly working on a hydrogen-powered version of the A7 as well.
According to Autocar, the prototype A7 will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, as opposed to using straight hydrogen to power an internal combustion engine as Aston Martin did with its recent Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S.
With fuel cells generating electricity from the reaction of oxygen and ambient air, the A7 will essentially be an electric car. This tech has already made it to the road on prototype and limited-production cars like the Honda FCX Clarity.
Being the most abundant element in the universe, and leaving no emissions other than water when run through a fuel cell, hydrogen seems like the ultimate alternative fuel. However, lack of a refueling infrastructure and a costly and dirty refining process have limited its use so far.
The A7 may try to make up for the lack of convenient hydrogen filling stations by using an onboard battery and regenerative braking to extend its range.
It’s also more than likely that the A7 will remain a prototype. Remember that Audi built the R8 e-tron to see if an electric supercar was technically possible, but shelved it because it didn’t make much sense as a production car.
The A7, which will begin trials in August, will likely serve a similar purpose. It will test the capabilities of fuel cells, giving Audi yet another green tech option for the future. This sleek five-door will also, it has to be said, look damn good doing it.