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Ever since they brought four-wheel-drive to rallying, Audi has been known for its use of new technologies in racing. It now looks like they might be ready to take the next step, with a hydrogen-powered Le Mans entry.
Speaking to Autocar, Audi’s head of technical development, Stefan Knirsch said “if we wanted to demonstrate our capabilities that way we could do it.” Despite that, though, there are still practical concerns that need to be addressed.
“The first thing is that we must be certain that it has a production future,” said Knirsch. “We don’t like to show things that are not leading to a production reality, and at the moment the lack of infrastructure leaves that uncertain.”
Audi has shown interest in hydrogen before—with cars like 2003’s hydrogen-powered A2 and the H-tron Quattro SUV—but the technology has taken a back to electric cars.
That said, Audi is still interested in hydrogen. “We are now developing hydrogen fuel cell technology to a serious production level—but the market must decide when we launch it,” said Knirsch. “We are ready, but the infrastructure is still not there, and the relationship between pure electric and hydrogen cars is not clear.”
With brands like BMW pushing hydrogen, though, and the first ever hydrogen car to complete laps of Le Mans this year, the technology could be set for a comeback.
If that happens, Audi, with its rich tradition of racing new technologies, could be the brand to show fans just how appealing the universe’s most abundant element can be.