The biggest debate in the automotive industry these days is about what will drive the future of motoring? Diesels are on their way out and some carmakers have already paid a heavy price for incorporating cheating devices to offset emission legislation. Petrol or blended ethanol fuels will carry on but unpredictable global oil prices will eventually take its toll. As a result, the mindset of many car majors are changing as future options are being actively considered.

Audi says it will fast track its hydrogen fuel cell research and has targeted to launch a pilot programme as early as next year.

Audi's product road map includes up to 12 battery-electric models by 2025.

"We really want to speed it up. We are going to put more priority into hydrogen fuel cells - more money, more capacity of people, and more confidence," Audi CEO Bram Schot

Audi’s product road map includes up to 12 battery-electric models by 2025. While it is investing heavily on the development of electric cars, it’s also looking at hydrogen-powered vehicles in equal measure.

According Audi CEO Bram Schot: “We really want to speed it up. We are going to put more priority into hydrogen fuel cells – more money, more capacity of people, and more confidence.”

Schot says Audi is investing more time, money, and people into developing hydrogen-powered cars because sourcing the natural resources required to mass-produce battery packs for long-range electric cars may not be that effective in the long-run as resources dry up.

Audi plans to have a running fuel cell prototype vehicle on the road sometime later this year and that the automaker would follow that up with a limited-run fuel cell vehicle pilot program reaching production by 2021.

According to him, hydrogen-powered cars offer several advantages. They require a smaller battery pack and offer a longer range besides having the capability to refuel in few minutes.

Audi plans to have a running fuel cell prototype vehicle on the road sometime later this year and that the automaker would follow that up with a limited-run fuel cell vehicle pilot program reaching production by 2021.

One of the major technology advancements is that users will be able to charge the battery pack by plugging it into a charging station. Previously, the pack only received electricity from the fuel cell.

The German automaker isn’t alone in its quest to bring fuel cells to the masses. In 2018, it teamed up with South Korea’s Hyundai to co-develop certain aspects of the technology. The two companies have pledged to cross-license patents and give each other access to non-competitive components.