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2014 is turning out to be a banner year for hydrogen cars – Toyota is set to launch its newly unveiled Mirai fuel cell vehicle next year in California, and Honda just announced plans to debut its next-generation hydrogen car in 2016. Rumors of a hydrogen-powered Audi A7 started circulating last year, and the automaker just unveiled the vehicle for the first time at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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The H-Tron Quattro is a fuel cell version of Audi’s A7 Sportback – a mid-size four-door hatchback. The vehicle pairs a hydrogen fuel cell with an electric motor that drives the rear wheels. The car can run on pure electricity for 31.1 miles, and it can travel 62.1 miles on a single kilogram of hydrogen. The A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro features four hydrogen tanks located beneath the trunk and in front of the rear axle, and the car can be refueled in a a zippy 3 minutes flat. The vehicle also features a regenerative braking system to boost its efficiency even further.

The success of fuel cell vehicles will ultimately depend on cost and the availability of hydrogen infrastructure – so far Japan and European nations are leading the way, while California has invested $200 million to establish 40 stations by 2016 and 12 fuel stations are in the works for the East Coast. The A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro is a concept vehicle and no production plans have been announced – for now, it’s likely that Audi will sit back and ride the road paved by fuel cell pioneers like Hyundai and Toyota.

+ Audi