Hydrogen-powered cars are back in the national conversation again thanks to the Toyota Mirai concept. One problem: If that's what the future looks like, then I need a DeLorean with a flux capacitor like yesterday. Hydrogen doesn't have to be hideous, though, as Audi proved at the LA Auto Show today.
This is the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro. It's a hydrogen A7. That makes it the best-looking hydrogen-powered car ever, basically. Need I say more?
Oh, what's that? I do? Okay fine, I will. (You people are so demanding.) Audi says the car can go 310.7 miles on a single tank of fuel, all while emitting naught but tasty, delicious, possibly even potable water.
You've got the hydrogen fuel cell up front, like where the engine would go on a conventional A7, made of over 300 individual cells that together form a stack. Hydrogen is broken down into protons and electrons, the latter of which supply electric power to the vehicle.
But what makes it unique is that it also has a plug-in hybrid system. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery is embedded beneath the trunk which can provide up to 31 miles of range. This stores energy recovered from braking and provides extra range when hydrogen fuel is close to being depleted.
All of that means the A7 h-tron quattro has 398.3 pound-feet of torque at its disposal, and can hit 62 mph in 7.9 seconds. Not especially blistering, but quite a bit faster than the Mirai and other hydrogen cars, and you'll look good getting there.
So will they make it? "We are in a position to launch the production process as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready," Audi says. So get on it, rest of the world.