Audi h-tron quattro concept

It has been revealed that Audi increased its research and development budget in spite of Volkswagen Group’s dieselgate scandal, according to a report by CarAdvice. This was done to ensure the company continues to remain progressive in its development of technology for future vehicles.

Audi’s member of the board of management for technical development Dr Stefan Knirsch said, “yes our R&D budget has increased since then. Approximately by five percent, I would say. We are aware as a company that we have to spend money on new technology.

“That includes something like the hydrogen fuel cell for example and we will never harm our future. We didn’t have to compromise any existing projects due to dieselgate,” he added.

However Knirsch stated that infrastructure remains a bottleneck in the roll out of hydrogen vehicles. “Bringing the vehicle to market isn’t so far away in terms of the vehicle development. It is the infrastructure that will hold us back. We won’t bring a vehicle to market unless the infrastructure can support owners using the vehicle. We don’t want our owners compromised,” he said

Audi h-tron quattro concept

Even in areas where hydrogen is more accessible, the network is unlike that of traditional fossil fuels, which are more widespread in terms of coverage. Additionally, hydrogen-powered vehicles are costly to manufacture because the scale effects of volume haven’t come into play yet.

The same can be said about hybrid vehicles, another area where Audi continues to vest its interest. Knirsch said, “the cost of a mild hybrid vehicle will definitely decrease with scale. All OEMs have to fulfil ever-tougher CO2 targets from 2020 onwards. In Europe, China and the US, those targets are very severe and mild hybrids will be part of helping to achieve those targets.”

Knirsch does express his liking of hydrogen-powered vehicles that offer customers a conventional ownership experience. This includes a short refuelling time, as well as a range of 600 km. Furthermore, hydrogen powertrains are lighter as well, and can be truly classified as zero emission.

Other technologies that Audi is investing in involve autonomous driving. “We have leadership within the VW Group for this technology and we’ve been working on it since 2009. We now have the platform in Germany for high density maps and real time mapping as well, which are both crucial for autonomous driving,” said Knirsch.

GALLERY: Audi h-tron quattro concept